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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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Talking About LGBT Issues Series

The Talking About LGBT Issues series is a set of research-based resources designed to help shape discussions with conflicted or undecided Americans—and help them better understand key issues of importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

In conversations about marriage, employment protections and non-discrimination laws, adoption and parenting, military service or hate crimes, it can often be easy to fall back on abstract jargon or angry rhetoric that can derail discussions with those who are not familiar with the issues. These guides offer ways that LGBT organizations, community members and allies alike can build common ground with moveable audiences, show them how their actions (or inaction) can hurt gay and transgender people, and help them understand issues of LGBT equality through the lenses of their own values and beliefs.

Equality for LGBT people is really about basic human values and needs: the ability of everyday Americans to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. And when we move away from abstract, technical language and toward discussions that connect people to common ground and common values, true understanding can take root. The Talking About LGBT Issues series is geared toward helping those who are conflicted or undecided better understand the issues, and toward helping them recognize the importance of and need for their support.

Related Resources

Report

Talking About Transgender People & Restrooms

August 2016 - Explore approaches for talking about transgender people and restrooms in a variety of contexts, including: building support for (and calming concerns about) nondiscrimination protections, opposing harmful anti-transgender bathroom ban laws, and more.

Guide

Talking About Religious Exemptions Laws

May 2016 - Read about approaches for effective conversations about harmful religious exemptions that threaten not only laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, but also access to health care (including women's reproductive health), public safety, and more.

Guide

An Ally's Guide to Talking About Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

April 2015 - Learn about conversation approaches that can help build and sustain solid, lasting support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws, and also factually and effectively address concerns that might be raised when discussing the need for such protections.

Guide

An Ally's Guide to Talking About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

April 2014 - To build and sustain support for the freedom to marry, focus on the values of marriage, emphasize why caring people don't deny others the chance of happiness in marriage, share stories of the journey to support, and more.

Guide

Talking About LGBT Equality: Overall Approaches

September 2011 - The pursuit of equality is about everyday Americans who want the same chance as everyone else to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.

Guide

An Ally's Guide to Terminology: Talking About LGBT People & Equality

October 2012 - The language we use to talk about LGBT people and issues can have a powerful impact on our discussions. The right words can open hearts and minds, while others can create confusion, distance or a sense of being overwhelmed.

Guide

Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations

November 2013 - Safe public discussions about suicide can play a critical role in increasing acceptance of LGBT people and supporting their well-being, while minimizing the risk of a phenomenon known as suicide contagion.

Guide

Talking About LGBT Equality With African Americans

October 2011 - An overwhelming majority of African Americans agree that LGBT people experience discrimination. However using term “civil rights” to describe LGBT equality can hinder those conversations and that support.

Guide

Talking About LGBT Equality With Latinos & Hispanics

September 2011 - Latinos tend to be strong supporters of fairness and equality for LGBT people, and conversations that focus on shared values of family, respect, faith and opposition to discrimination can build even greater acceptance.

Guide

An Ally’s Guide to Talking About Adoption by LGBT Parents

June 2012 - Focus conversations about parenting, adoption and LGBT parents on how they create loving, stable homes for kids and help ensure that children have the nurturing environment that allows them to thrive and succeed.

Guide

Talking About Inclusive Hate Crimes Laws

May 2009 - This report, developed prior to the passage of the inclusive federal hate crimes law in 2009, focuses on emphasizing the overwhelming public support for LGBT-inclusive hate crimes laws, and sharing stories that illustrate how LGBT people have been targeted for and hurt by violent hate crimes.

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