Self-Identified Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale

Self-Identified Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale


The Self-Identified Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale (SLIHS) was developed to gain a greater understanding of internalized homophobia in the lives of women who identify as lesbian and to address significant gaps in the literature regarding this topic. It has been hypothesized that internalized homophobia is linked to the elevated rates of mental health and substance abuse issues experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT)

individuals, including the disproportionately high rates of suicide among GLBT youth. However, although previous research suggests internalized homophobia is a statistically significant and distinct factor in the lives of gay men (Meyer, 1995), there is a dearth of research regarding this issue among other GLBT groups, including lesbians. Of the few existing empirical studies regarding internalized homophobia among lesbians, many rely on questions developed to measure this construct among gay men rather than those that appropriately address lesbian culture (Radonsky & Borders, 1995). Other studies are limited owing to a lack of theoretical support, small sample size, or additional methodological issues (DiPlacido, 1998; Peterson & Gerrity, 2006). Although there are several published scales that assess internalized homophobia among men, only one scale addresses women (Szymanski & Chung, 2001). However, this scale was validated using a sample that included a significant number (approximately 30%) of participants who did not identify as lesbian and was biased in terms of education level, and it includes questions that confound internalized homophobia with other psychological issues or personality traits.


The SLIHS is a self-administered survey that is completed by women who self-identify as lesbian. The instrument includes four subscales, Visibility, Connectedness, Self- Acceptance, and Judgment, and a total of 30 closed-ended questions.

Response Mode and Timing

This two-page self-administered survey takes approximately 3 minutes to complete. The response has been very high: Over 95% completed the survey.


Overall and subscale scores can be calculated. Possible overall scores range from 30 to 120 (with higher numbers representing greater internalized homophobia), whereas subscale scores range from 7 to 28 for Visibility (Items 17) and Connectedness (Items 814), 5 to 20 for Self- Acceptance (Items 1519), and 11 to 44 for Judgment (Items 2030). The Likert-type scale response categories and associated points for about half of the items are the following: Strongly Agree = 1, Agree = 2, Disagree = 3, and Strongly Disagree = 4. The remaining items are reversed (R), with point structures as follows: Strongly Agree = 4, Agree = 3, Disagree = 2, and Strongly Disagree = 1.

Reliability and Validity

The SLIHS was validated with a sample of 786 women, ranging in age from 18 to 82, from 39 states across the United States (Weibley, 2009). The sample was 81.7% White, 4.7% Hispanic, 4.6% Asian, 4.4% African American, 3.8% Biracial, and 0.8% other. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the internal reliability of the four subscales, with Cronbach coefficient alpha values ranging from .74 to .85. The original scale items were developed by lesbian focus group participants using the concept map- ping technique (Trochim, 1989), and the construct validity was assessed and affirmed by a total of 14 face and content validity reviewers.

Other Information

The scale was copyrighted by Stacy Weibley in 2009.

Address correspondence to Stacy Weibley; e-mail: [email protected]

Self-Identified Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale

  Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
I am comfortable being “out.”        
I am “out” to my boss/employer.        
I am “out” to my co-workers.        
I am “out” to my parents.        
I feel comfortable discussing homosexuality in a public setting.        
When discussing your partner, it is all right to use gender neutral pronouns to make heterosexual people more comfortable. [R]        
When/if I am in a relationship, I feel comfortable talking about my lesbian partner.        
I feel comfortable about the idea of another woman making an advance toward me.        
I feel comfortable at lesbian-centered events or places.        
I feel comfortable in social situations with other lesbians.        
I have stopped myself from coming out because no heterosexuals are truly accepting. [R]        
I have very little in common with other lesbians. [R]        
It is important for me to be part of the lesbian community.        
It is important to have people in my life who know I am a lesbian.        
I am comfortable being a lesbian.        
I feel comfortable thinking about my homosexuality.        
I sometimes feel disappointed in myself for being a lesbian. [R]‌        
I sometimes feel embarrassed to be a lesbian. [R]        
I would prefer to be heterosexual. [R]        
Being a lesbian is all right when you are young, but I worry how people will perceive me as an older lesbian. [R]        
Children should be taught that being gay or lesbian is normal.        
I find myself making negative comments about other lesbians. [R]        
I sometimes think heterosexual people’s judgments of lesbians are, at least in part, justified. [R]        
I think of lesbians as sexually predatory. [R]        
I wish other lesbians would not flaunt their lesbianism. [R]        
It is understandable that people judge lesbians who do not dress or act “straight.” [R]        
It is understandable that some people believe that lesbians are not worthy of the same treatment as other women. [R]        
Lesbians should try to look as non-offensive as possible. [R]        
Lesbians who have a very masculine appearance make me uncomfortable. [R]        
Most lesbians grow out of their lifestyles. [R]        

Note. [R] = reverse-scored items.


DiPlacido, J. (1998). Minority stress among lesbians, gay men, and bisex- uals: A consequence of heterosexism, homophobia, and stigmatiza- tion. In G. Herek (Ed.), Stigma and sexual orientation: Understanding prejudice against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (pp. 138–159). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Meyer, I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36, 38–56.

Peterson, T. L., & Gerrity, D. A. (2006). Internalized homophobia, les- bian identity development, and self-esteem in undergraduate women. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(4), 49–75.

Radonsky, V. E., & Borders, L. D. (1995). Factors influencing lesbians’ direct disclosure of their sexual orientation. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, 2(3), 17–37.

Szymanski, D. M., & Chung, Y. B. (2001). The lesbian internalized homophobia scale: A rational/theoretical approach. Journal of Homosexuality, 41(2), 37–52.

Trochim, W. (1989). An introduction to concept mapping for planning and evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12, 1–16.

Weibley, S. (2009). Creating a scale to measure internalized homophobia among self-identified lesbians. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.