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REGISTERED NURSES’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PROTECTION OF GAYS AND - page 44 / 161

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increase in homophobia among African Americans (Lewis, 2003).

The greater degree of interpersonal contact individuals have

with gays and lesbians through friendships or familial ties, the

lesser degree of homophobia they possess (Finlay & Walther,

2003).

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 (Douglas, et. al, 1985;

Hoffmann & Bakken, 2001).

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 (Plugge-Foust & Strickland, 2001). 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

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