It's common knowledge that most of the population is heterosexual. However, the fact that we have started to assume everyone is heterosexual because of that is a rising problem, termed "heteronormativity."
When people feel like they must conform to certain standards of sexuality, it can lead to those people feeling like they are out of place for not being heterosexual. Any other combination of sexual attractions are usually left out of consideration.
There are a whole variety of sexualities that people fall under, and at least ten percent of the population falls under non-heterosexual categories. Some sources estimate that up to twenty percent of the population could not be heterosexual.
Creating a community is important for people so they can discover themselves in an environment where they don’t feel attacked. Society needs to recognize that we can’t assume that everyone is straight. If we stop assuming everyone is straight, it’s easier to form these communities and support.
Besides the fact that assuming everyone is straight is wrong, it comes with more problems than just excluding part of the population.
One of these problems is that people are so used to society's heterosexual expectations that they can be made to feel like there is something wrong with not meeting that expectation. It makes people feel conflicted and alone.
Some people that are dating a person of the opposite sex are not straight. They might be bisexual, polysexual, or pansexual. Just because someone is dating a different gender doesn't mean you should assume he or she is straight.
This overgeneralization also leads to health problems. When kids go through sex education classes in school, other sexualities are rarely brought up. Kids don’t learn about anything other than safe heterosexual sex. This can lead to a lot of unsafe practices in those people who are not heterosexual or are still trying to figure it out. This can lead to STDs. People should not have information about their health kept from them just because they aren’t in the majority.
Another issue caused by this overgeneralization is that the LGBT+ community is cast in an overly sexualized light. People don’t think children can figure out their own sexualities unless they are saying they’re heterosexual.
When the whole community is given this highly sexualized stigma, people assume that there is nothing innocent about it. Heterosexual crushes in children, for example, are often found cute and considered innocent. When a child confesses to a non-heterosexual crush, they are often rebutted because of the sexual stigma. By assuming that anyone who is LGBT+ is sexual erases anyone on the asexual or aromantic spectrum, and it erases people that are sex repulsed. Not being straight doesn't make someone automatically sexualized.
The high sexualization of the LGBT+ community also makes it unwelcome for children to have any exploration in a sexuality that is not heterosexual. Instead, it instills the idea in children that people who are not straight are different instead of just being attracted to someone. It continues to promote the idea that everyone assumes people are heterosexual until stated otherwise.
Assuming all people are heterosexual is detrimental because people feel like they should not explore their sexuality to become more comfortable with themselves, whether they are straight or not. People who are not heterosexual must "come out" to society and face judgment, but people who are heterosexual never really have to worry about such an experience.
This assumption also creates the idea that sexuality is set in stone when it is often fluid to varying degrees among everyone. The assumption of heterosexuality creates the idea that sexuality will never change once someone comes out, when, in all actuality, many people will experiment or change.
It makes sense then that we should stop assuming everyone is straight. No one deserves to feel broken for something they can’t control, and educating people about these issues can help.
Instead of assuming everyone is heterosexual, let people tell you about themselves if they choose to. Don’t just assume someone is straight because of who they are or are not dating. Some people are attracted to more than one gender, some people aren’t attracted to any gender, and some people aren’t comfortable bringing up who they’re attracted to.
Don’t assume that people straight just because the majority is. It's aiding in this stigma and hurting people.