This post has little to do with addiction itself, and more to do with an ironic interesting thing I found on an addiction website.

In the early 70’s, Martin Rochlin wrote a subversive and humorous psychological essay called “The Heterosexual Questionnaire”.  It asks the reader questions normally directed at GLBT people, such as:

  1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
  2. When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?
  3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
  4. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?
  5. Isn’t it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

And it goes on for a total of 24 questions which are designed to put the heterosexual in the shoes of a GLBT person.  The author makes his point in a fun way.  This piece has been cited in countless discussions of heterosexism, which is defined as:

Assuming every person to be heterosexual, therefore marginalizing persons who do not identify as heterosexual.  It is also the belief that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality and all other sexual orientations.

A few people have turned the piece into a multiple choice test which I feel misses the point in a big ironic way.  Among those who have made it into a test are OASAS (the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services), the state agency responsible for regulating and licensing treatment programs and counselors in New York state.  If you are studying to be a certified alcoholism and substance abuse counselor (CASAC) in New York, you will be directed to their site where they’ve got a page full of workbooks and educational materials available for download, and each of these courses has a corresponding test which can be taken online.

This is a ridiculous picture from the eductional program offered by OASAS

In their course, The LGBTQ Client: Addressing Competent Provider Care, OASAS teaches about heterosexism, and I agree that it should be a concern for anyone working with troubled people.  The last thing you want to do is alienate someone in a fragile state who is seeking help from you.  You could ask a man “do you have a wife” and immediately send the message (whether you intend to or not) that you think being straight is normal, you expect everyone to be straight, and that if he answers that he doesn’t have a wife because he is gay, you will view him as abnormal.  Now if you believe in eliminating heterosexism, then you believe in eliminating it on all fronts, not only in dealing with clients, but also in personal social interactions, in educational settings, in the workplace, etc.  What OASAS overlooked is the fact that, if you give the questionnaire to a straight person who is declared straight, then you’re giving them an interesting thought exercise – but when you make it into a  multiple choice test which is given to every person who is studying to be a counselor, then you yourself are being extremely heterosexist.  The absurdity of this situation is actually insulting.  Here they are on their high horse, the ones in charge of deciding whether you get to work as a counselor or not, and they’re telling you that you have to beware of heterosexism to make sure you’re not alienating clients – then they go and alienate you by giving you a list of questions which assume you, the CASAC student to be STRAIGHT.  What if you’re not straight, and you encounter this test in the educational course from OASAS.  If you believe what they teach about heterosexism, then it’s only reasonable to believe that OASAS thinks that CASACs would never be homosexual, but that the drug addicts they’re counseling probably are homosexual!

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