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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Best Practices

Helping Americans understand the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is a critical part of building public support for LGBT equality. But simply discussing the issues isn’t enough. Like any other movement for social justice, the success of the LGBT movement requires advocates to communicate effectively and persuasively with policymakers, the media, and everyday Americans. It requires that advocates communicate in ways that emphasize common ground, emotional connection and shared values. And it requires framing conversations in ways that allow non-LGBT audiences to understand the harms LGBT Americans experience through their own eyes. For example, when discussing marriage and relationship recognition, it is important to avoid discussions of abstract legal theories and instead talk about the needs of everyday gay and lesbian couples—such as the way marriage helps these couples take care of each other, and the common values of love, commitment and responsibility their relationships embody.

MAP explores the principles of effective framing for the LGBT movement and provides approaches that organizations can use in developing messages that resonate with key audiences. MAP also provides resources to help organizations effectively communicate their messages. How does an LGBT organization decide how to talk about an issue? Who is the best spokesperson for delivering its message? What is its target audience? What media should it use to reach its audience? And how should it budget for this work? MAP provides LGBT organizations with information and tools that will help them answer these and other questions while designing and implementing effective communications campaigns.

Related Resources

Report

The Art and Science of Framing an Issue

January 2008 - This guide was created to help LGBT organizations learn more about how to win in the battle of ideas. It includes principles and strategies for effectively framing issues in authentic ways that can resonate with people’s values.

Report

Communications Campaign Best Practices

January 2008 - This guide is a summary of everything that an LGBT advocacy organization needs to know about running an effective communications campaign, from setting a campaign objective to measuring results—and everything in between.

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