Definitions & Information
Advocate: An ally who actively works to end intolerance, educates others, and supports LGBT issues, concerns, equal rights legislation, etc.
Ally: A heterosexual or LGBT person who supports LGBT people. Someone who confronts heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexual and genderstraight privilege in themselves and others; has a concern for the well-being of LGBTI people; and a belief that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are social justice issues.
Biphobia: The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of bisexuals, which is oftentimes related to the current binary standard. Biphobia can be seen within the LGBT community, as well as in general society.
Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually attracted to members of more than one gender. They also can be referred to as omnisexual and pansexual.
Cisgender: The opposite of transgender, someone who is cisgender has a gender identity that agrees with their societally recognized sex. "Cisgender" is preferred to terms like "biological", "genetic", or "real" male or female. Using "biological female" or "genetic female" to describe cisgender individuals excludes tran men. Calling a cisgender woman a "real woman" is exclusive of trans women, who are also "real" women.
Closeted/In the Closet: Refers to an LGBTI person who will not or cannot disclose their sex, sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity to their friends, family, co-workers, or society. It can also refer to one who has come out to only a few people. There are varying degrees of being "in the closet"; for example, a person can be out in their social life, but in the closet at work, or with their family. Also known as on the '"Downlow" or DL.
Coming Out: The life-long process of discovering, defining, and proclaiming one's own sexuality, gender identity, or status as an intersexed person to oneself, family, friends and others.
Gay: Usually, but not always, refers to homosexual men. Also used as an umbrella term for the LGBT community.
Gender Identity/Expression: A person's sense of being masculine, feminine, or other gendered. How people perceives/identifies themselves and what pronouns they use for themselves. This may or may not agree with the traditional societal gender roles outlined for their sex. (It is important to understand that everyone has a gender identity/expression.)
Gender Roles: The societal and cultural expectations of people based upon their biological sex.
Heteronormativity: The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality and bisexuality.
Heterosexual: A person who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attractions to persons of the "opposite sex." The sexuality that dominant discourse prescribes.
Heterosexual Privilege: Advantages and benefits that come automatically by being heterosexual; i.e.: Marriage and all the benefits that go along with it, acceptance from family, safety, and acceptance in one's chosen career field. Also, can refer to the benefits LGB people receive as a result of claiming a heterosexual identity or denying homosexual or bisexual identity.
Heterosexism: The belief that all people are heterosexual, the assumption and/or belief that heterosexual relationships and behavior are superior, and the actions based on this assumption. Usually used to the advantage of majority culture, Any attitude, action, or practice – backed by institutional power – that subordinates people because of their non-heterosexual sexual orientation.
Homosexual: A person who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attraction to persons of the "same sex." More of a medical term, it is considered an outdated term when referring to gay people or communities.
Homophobia: Fear, anger, discomfort, intolerance, or lack of acceptance toward LGB people, homosexuality, or any behavior or belief that does not conform to rigid sex role stereotypes. The internalized version of this is having these feelings about one's own non-heterosexual orientation.
In Community Language/Out of Community Language: The use of terms that may be allowed or more accepted when used by a member of a cultural community that are usually best not used by those who are not part of the community; ie: Dyke: Derogatory slang term used to identify lesbians, Fag/Faggot: Derogatory slang used to identify gay men, Queer: Derogatory slang term used to identify LGBT people. These terms, especially Queer, have been embraced and reinvented as positive, proud, political identifiers when used by some LGBT people among and about themselves.
Intersexed: People born with "unexpected" genitals. Formerly referred to as hermaphrodites, intersexed people are not easily categorized as male or female because of ambiguous genitals. Most intersexed people do not possess "both" sets of genitals, rather a blending or a different appearance that is medically unacceptable to most doctors. Intersexuality is fairly common. Many who identify as intersexed believe that early childhood surgical intervention is not only unnecessary but cruel, and advocate counseling and support for children and families.
Lesbian: A woman who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attractions to other women.
Lifestyle: How a person chooses to live and behave. Being LGBT is not a choice, and therefore is not considered a lifestyle (i.e.: yuppie, vegan, hobbies, rural/urban, etc.).
Pride: Not being ashamed of oneself and/or showing one's pride to others by coming out, speaking out, marching, etc. Being open, honest and comfortable.
Questioning: The process of exploring one's own sexual identity, including but not limited to one's upbringing, expectations from others (family, friends, church, etc.), and inner motivation.
Same gender loving (SGL): A term from the African American/Black LGBT community and used by people of color who may see 'gay' and 'lesbian' as terms of the white LGBT community.
Sex (Biological): A medical term designating a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. A binary system (male/female) set by the medical establishment, usually based on reproductive organs. Because this is usually divided into 'male' and 'female' this category ignores the existence of intersexed bodies.See intersexed.
Sex Identity: How a person identifies physically: female, male, in between, beyond, or neither.
Sexuality: A person's exploration of sexual acts, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure, and desire.
Sexual Orientation: The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, both, or multiple genders/ sexes. It is a direction based on whom a person is emotionally, physically and sexually attracted. It is not a simple matter of 'choice.' It is not to be confused with sexual preference (What a person likes to do sexually), which implies making a choice. (It is important to understand that everyone has a sexual orientation.)
Transphobia: The irrational fear of those who are gender variant and/or the inability to deal with gender ambiguity.
Transgender: An umbrella term for people who transgress society's view of gender and biological sex as necessarily fixed, unmoving, and following from one's biological sex. They view gender on a spectrum, rather than a polarized, either/or construct. This can range from identification to cross dressing, to undergoing hormone therapy, to sex reassignment surgery and/or to other forms of dress/presentation. Transgender people can include transsexuals, cross dressers, drag kings/queens, masculine women, feminine men, and all those who defy what society tells them is appropriate for their "gender." Political trans activists seek to make more space around gender to create a society where the choice of gender expression/presentation is safe, sane, and consensual.
Transition: This term is primarily used to refer to the process a gender variant person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.
Transsexual: A person whose core gender identity is "opposite" their assigned sex. Transsexuals may live as the opposite sex, undergo hormone therapy, and/or have sex reassignment surgery to "match" their bodies with their gender identity.
Transvestite: A person who cross-dresses for erotic pleasure or relaxation.
Cross Dressing: The act of wearing the clothing of the "opposite" sex for performance, sexual encounters, or comfort. Generally, the term cross dresser is preferred to transvestite.
Drag Queen: -a person who consciously performs femininity, sometimes in an exaggerated/theatrical manner, usually in a show or theatre setting; King-a person who consciously performs masculinity, sometimes in an exaggerated/theatrical manner, usually in a show or theatre setting.
Continued: Additional Working Definitions are on page 19 – the last page of the packet.
SOURCES: Florida State University's Campus SafeZone web page, Ohio University's LGBT Center Staff Members, Plymouth State College's Task Force Against Homophobia SafeZone handout, Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers (VACUHO) SafeZone Project handout
An intense, irrational fear of lesbians and gay men, and the hatred, disgust, and prejudice fostered by that fear. The term is widely used to describe any belief or behavior that indicates fear or hatred of lesbians and gay men. (It can also be linked to/applied to Bisexual and Transgender individuals.)
Homophobia can be experienced at several levels:
- the fear or hatred of persons who are lesbian or gay
- the fear of being perceived as lesbian or gay
- the fear or hatred of one's own attraction to members of the same "gender" (which is referred to as internalized homophobia)
The fear and hatred which comprise homophobia can be expressed through a variety of prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory actions, such as:
- indicating discomfort or disgust toward individuals who are or are perceived as lesbian or gay
- denying equal treatment to individuals who are or are perceived as lesbian or gay
- harassing or engaging in violence against individuals who are or are perceived as lesbian or gay
Examples of Homophobia:
- Making assumptions about a person being lesbian or gay based on dress, behavior, or personality
- Feeling repulsed by displays of affection between same "gender" couples, but accepting displays of affection between different "gender" couples
- Thinking of people who are lesbian and gay online in terms of their sexuality, rather than as whole, complex persons
- Being afraid of social or physical interactions with people who are lesbian or gay
- Avoiding social situations or activities where you might be perceived as lesbian or gay
- Assuming that lesbians and gay men will be attracted to everyone of the same sex.
The fear, hatred, or intolerance o bisexual men and women by heterosexuals, gay men, and lesbians, or by bisexuals themselves (internalized biphobia).
Examples of Biphobia
- Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or lesbian/gay
- Assuming that bisexuals are confused or indecisive about their sexuality
- Assuming that bisexuals are promiscuous or cannot live monogamously
- Assuming that bisexuals are attracted to everyone
- Assuming that people who identify as bisexual are "really" lesbian or gay, but are in denial
- Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be with someone of a different sex than themselves to gain some of the privileges of being perceived as heterosexual
- Believing that people who are bisexual spread HIV/AIDS
- Automatically assuming that two women together are lesbians, that two men together are gay, or that a man and a woman together are heterosexual
- Thinking that people identify as bisexual because it is "trendy"
- Assuming that "bisexual" means "available"
- Not wanting to date someone who is bisexual because you assume that the person will eventually leave you for someone of another "gender"
- Thinking of people who are bisexual only in terms of their sexuality, rather than as whole, complex persons
The pioneering work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his associates is still referred to in much of the current literature on LGBT issues. The most revealing point from these studies is that there is a broad spectrum of sexual orientation, not just two: heterosexual and homosexual. Instead of picturing sexual orientation as an either/or issue, Kinsey developed a seven point continuum based on the degree of sexual responsiveness people have for members of the same and opposite sex. Kinsey suggested that it is necessary to consider a variety of activities in assessing as individual's ranking on the continuum: fantasies, thoughts, dreams, emotional feelings, and frequency of sexual activity.
0 -- exclusively heterosexual
1 -- predominantly heterosexual, incidentally homosexual
2 -- predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 -- equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 -- predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 -- predominantly homosexual, incidentally heterosexual
6 -- exclusively homosexual
- Even though current research indicates that sexual orientation is fixed and unchangeable, some still insist that homosexuals could change if they wanted to. Could you change your sexual orientation on demand? Would you want to? Why or why not?
- Many people assume that homosexuality is a choice, and that gay people have made the decision to be gay. If you assume that homosexuality is a matter of choice, do you assume that heterosexuality is a matter of choice also? When did you choose your sexual orientation?
- Suppose for a minute that sexual orientation is a simple matter of choice (which it does not appear to be). Does that mean gays and lesbians are less deserving of civil rights protection?Before you answer, consider the following: Religious affiliation is a choice in our country, yet our government provides protection from discrimination on the basis of this personal decision.
- Currently, our government does not provide gays and lesbians with the benefits of marriage, or protection from discrimination.Should gays and lesbians pay taxes to a government that fails to provide them with basic civil rights protection?
- Why should gays and lesbians pay into funds that provide special rights and benefits for heterosexuals and their partners, but does little to benefit homosexuals and their loved ones?Would you turn down a life saving organ donation if the donor was gay or lesbian?
- Does it seem fair that a heterosexual couple married for one hour has more legal rights and responsibilities toward each other than a same-sex couple that has been together for 30 years?
- If your children were gay: Would you love them any less? Would you want your children to grow up and live in a society that refused to accept them and grant them equal rights?
- If your neighbor or co-worker were gay:How would his/her sexual orientation affect you? Would granting him/her equal rights infringe upon your rights? How?
- Currently, gay and lesbian couples are denied the benefits of a legal marriage, while heterosexual couples continue to reap the benefits of a legal union. Who has special rights now? Would granting homosexuals the right to marry interfere with anyone else's basic civil rights? Would granting gays the right to marry affect your marriage? How? How would it affect the benefits heterosexual couples currently enjoy?
- Most children who are molested are molested by heterosexual men. Do you think it's safe to let heterosexual men teach? Lead scout troops? Work in any field where they may be in close contact with children?
Copyright 1996, 1997. C. Ann Shepherd.
(Last updated Winter 2012)
State and City Laws
State of Ohio
- The State only provides protection for LGBT people in government employment.
- Twenty-two states currently ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in overall employment and housing: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin
- Seventeen states currently ban discrimination based on gender identity in overall employment and housing: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
- about a hundred cities in thirty three states have enacted civil rights legislation that includes sexual orientation
- More than 25 cities, though, do protect the rights of gender-variant people, including the Twin Cities; Seattle; Santa Cruz; San Francisco; Iowa City; Toledo; New Orleans; Tucson; Atlanta; Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and York, PA; Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, MI; and Evanston and Dekalb, IL.
Marriage/Domestic Partnership Rights
- Same-sex couples can only be legally married in 7 states: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont
- Civil unions, which gives same-sex couples the same benefits and protections under state law as those who are legally married, are granted in 8 states: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington
- 35 states have passed laws that would deny recognition to same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, should a state eventually enable lesbians and gay men to marry.
- Internationally, 8 countries allow same-sex couples to be legally married: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
- Many countries have laws that grant same-sex couples virtually all of the benefits of civil marriage: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greenland, New Zealand, and Norway.
- France, Germany, and Brazil provide many legal benefits to same-sex couples
Hate Crimes Laws
- Forty states and the District of Columbia have enacted hate crimes legislation that includes crimes based on real or perceived sexual orientation.
- Thirteen of these states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico also explicitly include gender identity and expression in their hate crimes laws.
- In 2003 the Supreme Court struck down all anti-sodomy laws in the United States under the case Lawrence v. Texas.
- Consensual homosexual acts between consenting adults are illegal in 70 out of the 195 countries of the world.
Federal Laws and Policies
- Since 1975, a lesbian, gay, and bisexual civil rights bill has failed to pass in Congress.
- In the last several years, congressional supporters of LGB rights have tried to pass a law that only bans sexual orientation discrimination in employment (known as ENDA, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), but this effort too has been unsuccessful.
- The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (also known as the Matthew Shepard Act), passed on October 22, 2009. This act expands the 1969 United States Federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It is the first federal law to extend protections to transgender individuals, and is also the first Federal LGBT civil rights legislation passed since 1975.
- Don't Ask Don't Tell, the controversial legislation that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was repealed in 2011, allowing all service members to serve openly, without fear of employment termination.
- Although the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was supposed to make it easier for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to serve in the military, there was a 92% increase in the number of people discharged because of their sexual orientation in the first five years of the policy.
- More people were dismissed on sexual orientation grounds in 2000 than in any year since 1987, when a complete ban existed on lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals serving in the military.
- Among NATO countries, only Turkey does not allow lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to serve openly in their militaries.
If you are heterosexual (or in some cases, perceived to be), you can live without ever having to think twice, face, confront, engage, or cope with anything printed below. Heterosexuals can address these phenomena but social/political forces do not require them to do so.
- Public recognition and support for an intimate relationship (e.g. receiving cards and phone calls celebrating your commitments to another person).
- Having role models of your "gender" and sexual orientation.
- Living with your partner and doing so openly.
- Joint child custody.
- Learning about romance and relationships from fiction movies and television.
- Talking about your relationship, or what projects, vacations, and family planning you and your lover/partner are creating.
- Expressing pain when a relationship ends from death or separation, and having other people notice and tend to your pain.
- Paid leave from employment when grieving the death of your spouse.
- Sharing health, auto and homeowners' insurance policies at reduced rates.
- Having positive media images of people with whom you can identify.
- Receiving social acceptance by neighbors, colleagues, and good friends.
- Property laws, filing joint tax returns, inheriting from your spouse automatically under probate laws.
- Not having to hide or lie about women/men only social activities.
- Immediate access to your loved one in case of accident or emergency.
- Going wherever you wish and know that you will not be harassed, beaten, or killed because of your sexuality.
- Not worrying about being mistreated by the police or victimized by the criminal justice system because of your sexuality.
- Expressing affection in most social situations and not expecting hostile or violent reactions from others.
- Legal marriage to the person you love.
- Knowing that your basic civil rights will not be denied or outlawed because some people disapprove of your sexuality.
- Join the military and be open about your sexuality.
- Expect that your children will be given texts in school that support your kind of family unit and they will not be taught that your sexuality is a "perversion."
- Freedom of sexual expression without fear of being prosecuted for breaking the law.
- Raise, adopt, and teach children without people believing that you will molest them or force them into your sexuality.
- Belonging to the religious denomination of your choice and know that your sexuality will not be denounced by its religious leaders.
- Easily finding a neighborhood in which residents will accept how you have constituted your household.
- Knowing that you will not be fired from a job or denied a promotion based on your sexuality.
- Working in traditionally male or female dominated jobs without it being considered "natural" for someone of your sexuality.
- Expecting to be around others of your sexuality most of the time. Not worrying about being the only one of your sexuality in a class, on a job, or in a social situation.
- Acting, dressing, or talking as you choose without it being a reflection on people of your sexuality.
- The ability to teach about lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals without being seen as having a bias because of your sexuality or forcing a "homosexual agenda" on students.