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Talking About LGBT Equality: Overall Approaches

The Bottom Line

The best and most effective discussions about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues help people understand what those issues are about in authentic and emotionally compelling ways that resonate with their values.

Talking About LGBT Equality: Overall Approaches is the foundation of the Talking About LGBT Issues series, providing an overview of approaches that community members and allies can use to improve conversations about LGBT equality, with a focus on emphasizing common ground, illustrating the concrete harms that LGBT people face, helping straight people see those harms through their own eyes, and avoiding missteps that can create roadblocks to successful discussions.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project and GLAAD. September 2011. "Talking About LGBT Equality: Overall Approaches." MAP's Talking About LGBT Issues Series.

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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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