Sexual Diversity in Psychology: Examples & Impact

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are interested in psychology, you are probably thinking about different kinds of diversity that can have impacts. This lesson discusses the different ways that sexual diversity can influence human psychology.

Understanding Psychology, Understanding Diversity

As a future clinical psychologist, Alex is really interested in learning as much as he can about how humans think and feel. Part of this means understanding more about human diversity, or the many kinds of differences between, and among, people.

At an internship, Alex recently had the chance to work with a young woman, who was in the process of coming out as gay. Alex started to think more about sexual diversity, or the many different ways humans can identify sexually, and how this can impact their psychological development and makeup.

Making Sense of Sexual Orientation

First, Alex has to think about what exactly is meant by the concept of sexual orientation. He understands that sexual orientation usually refers to who people find sexually attractive.

In today's world, Alex knows, there are so many different sexual identities people can take on, ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or asexual. Many people's sexual identities change, and evolve, over the course of their lifespan, as well.

Example of Sexual Diversity Impacting Psychology

The patient Alex worked with had never been involved sexually with another woman, but she knew she was more attracted to women than anyone else, and she was in the process of defining her identity as a lesbian.

Alex could see that this patient, like many, though not all, LGBTQ people, was struggling with internalized homophobia. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning. In other words, she had internalized many biases and stereotypes about homosexuality, and she was now directing these negative thoughts and impressions against herself.

The patient was also struggling tremendously with telling her family about her identity; she was worried about rejection and anger.

On the other hand, Alex worked with her, to help her develop a sense of pride in her identity, and excitement about meeting other people she could learn to love, befriend, or be involved in social experiences with.

Overall Impacts of Sexual Diversity

Alex knows that sexual diversity impacts people in different ways, and it is impossible to make one overarching statement about sexual diversity in psychology. However, he has noticed some important trends and issues.

Social Cohesiveness

First, he thinks that one of the important aspects of sexual diversity is that people often develop communities around their sexual identities. Alex knows that this level of social cohesion, or group belonging, can be especially helpful when people are estranged from family. In general, though, social cohesion can help people take pride in their own identity, and meet others with similar interests and traits.


Sexual diversity also makes Alex start thinking about the role of inclusiveness, in psychology overall. In other words, he knows it is not enough for a diverse group of people to be represented or treated in a situation. More than just representation, diverse groups and individuals need to feel celebrated, as though their identity is really part of the fabric of an institution, or community.

Alex also knows that inclusiveness extends to transgender people, or those who do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. He knows that gender identity and sexual orientation are sometimes conflated, and that transgender people may identify with a variety of different sexual orientations. Still, helping these people feel included in LGBTQ communities is an important part of ensuring their psychological well being.

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