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Talking About LGBT Equality with African Americans

The Bottom Line

An overwhelming majority of African Americans strongly agree that LGBT people experience discrimination. Likewise, they strongly support efforts to secure equal rights for LGBT Americans. However, research also shows that using the term civil rights to describe LGBT equality hinders our conversations with many African Americans.

Talking About LGBT Equality with African Americans examines these findings and offers approaches for developing more effective discussions, including: elevating the voices and stories of African Americans who are LGBT, avoiding comparisons to the African American Civil Rights Movement, and focusing on shared concerns about hate crimes, bullying in schools, and employment and housing discrimination.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project and GLAAD. October 2011. "Talking About LGBT Equality with African Americans." MAP's Talking About LGBT Issues Series. (date of access).

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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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