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REGISTERED NURSES’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PROTECTION OF GAYS AND - page 108 / 161

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Although not assessed in this study, the number of gay and lesbian friends an individual has is also negatively correlated with homophobia; thus, as an individual has more friends or family members who are gay and/or lesbian, the lower homophobia he or she holds (Herek, 2002a). Heterosexuals who acknowledge having at least one homosexual friend or one homosexual family member have statistically significant lower scores on the Index of Homophobia, and thus, overall lower levels of homophobia (Hoffmann & Bakken, 2001; Douglas, et. al, 1985). This finding might be because the more interactions heterosexuals have with homosexuals, the more integrated such interactions become in heterosexual life. Thus, heterosexuals deem homosexuality as an expected component of human existence.

Again correlating rational thought with positive attitudes towards gays and lesbians, heterosexuals with higher rational thought processes rated on the DLS have a statistically greater number of interactions with homosexuals, and thus, have lower levels of homophobia. Perhaps irrational thought process regarding homosexuality is stymied as interactions with homosexuals increase and previous irrational thoughts are replaced with rational truths regarding gays and lesbians.

Level of comfort around gay and lesbian people is also correlated with the amount of positive interactions heterosexuals have previously had with gay and lesbian persons; thus, the more positive interactions one has had with gay men or lesbians, the more comfortable he or she is around gay men and lesbians (Herek, 2000b). Conversely, heterosexuals who report

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