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Queer At HSU

Bias Education Initiative


What is Bias?

Bias: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Bias is something that effects most people for many reasons (some of which they have control of and some that they don't) some examples of aspects that people are biased against are religion, social class, ethnic group, ability/disability etc. Sexual orientation is something that is people are often biased against which is why the Bias Education Initiative is an important aspect of education and advocacy against homophobia.



A summarized account of the history of the Bias Education Initiative after an interview with one of the creators of the organization, Jennifer Eichstedt. 


This page was created as a part of Humboldt State's course called "Queer Women's Lives."

Queer people are often victims of bias, whether purely because of their queer identity or because of how it intesects within their identity. As a student in this course I was able to read about accounts of queer women in various books (memoirs) that were part of the course material. The queer identities intersected with various other aspects of themselves that madethem victims of bias. There were three notable accounts in which this happened, once because of ethnicity and twice because of sexual identity.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir written by Jeanette Winterson about growing up as lesbian in an extremely religious household. Mrs. Winterson, the narrator's mother was extremely biased about her daughter being in relationships with other girls because of her religion and told the narrator, "It's a sin. You'll be in hell," (Winterson, 113). This is also aroundthe time when the title of the book comes into play when her mother asks her, "why be happy [being in queer relationships] when you could be normal?" Because she considered being straight normal. This shows her bias because Mrs. Winterson never really tries to understand Jeanette’s sexuality or make an effort to care about what makes her happy because it wasn’t what she thought was normal/average which is where bias often starts, someone deciding that the way another person lives is too different.

In the memoir, A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez, the narrator is bisexual. People that identify as bisexual often receive a lot of prejudice from both straight and lesbian/gay communities because they aren’t “choosing a side.” This bias is something that the narrator has to deal with within the book after she has sex with another woman and tells her that she’s bisexual; the narrator is met with a sigh and the question, "Why can't I just meet a normal lesbian?" (Hernandez, 93) By the person asking why they couldn’t just meet a normal lesbian she is showing that even if she accepts that Daisy likes both men and women, because she likes both it’s not someone she would want to be in a relationship. Many people feel like bisexual people are “greedy” which is why they often have to deal with bias from both communities when/if they choose to come out.

Racism is a fairly obvious form of bias that most people are aware of and something that many people of color deal with on a day to day basis. Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith is both a memoir and biography that follows the life of Barbara Smith, a black lesbian feminist who played a huge role in building and sustaining the Black Feminist movement in the United States. The intersectionality of her identity meant there were many different ways that bias affected her but one story that she tells and says she won’t forget “as long as [she] lives,” (Jones, Eubanks, Smith, 19) is one of the first times she experienced racism. When she was in the third grade, Smith and her sister “begged” their mother to make cookies for their class and she agreed, however when they took them to class the white children wouldn’t touch them. This not only shows the bias that she has to face so often but also how young it starts in other children depending on the way they’re raised.

Incidents of bias like these are still common today which is why it's important that people are educated on their biases as some can go completely unnoticed if they're not pointed out to the perpetrators. This is one of the reasons that organizations like the Bias Education Initative are so important--without education about bias there is no way to stop future incidents.