Reducing “Acceptable” Stigmatization Through Legislation


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laura G. Barron, University of Wisconsin–Stout, Department of Psychology, Office: 323 McCalmont Hall [e-mail:].


Substantial research has focused on stigmatized groups who are widely protected from discrimination under national legislation. In the current article, however, we focus our attention on those stigmatized groups who are relatively early in their quest for civil rights. In particular, we consider gay and lesbian individuals, and heavy individuals, for whom existing research is considerable enough to allow for a review. We summarize the discrimination these individuals face on a daily basis and how this discrimination, on some level, is socially supported. One way to reduce this discrimination is to enact legislation. We discuss the importance of such legislation and provide preliminary empirical evidence showing that such laws can serve as a symbolic and instrumental mechanism for remediating formal and interpersonal discrimination.