I’ve been asked to break down these various initials recently by a number of friends and students, so I thought I’d write a bit on them. LGB is a group of initials that most people are familiar with to one degree or another:
- Lesbian (women who are attracted to women)
- Gay (often referring to men who are attracted to men, but can also refer to lesbians)
- Bisexual (people who are attracted to both men and women)
At some point, this grouping was expanded to include:
- Transgender (an individual who does not feel that they fit well into the biological sex assigned to their physical manifestation, includes transsexuals who feel that they were born the wrong sex, people who identify as a third gender, and more)
More recently this group of four was expanded to include either one or two Q’s, which stand in for:
- Queer (this is a very category that can include anyone who doesn’t feel that they fit within the binary categories of male/female or who doesn’t feel that they fit within the binary categories of strait/gay – this is typically considered a self-identified title and is very broad)
- Questioning (an individual who is examining their sexual orientation and gender orientation before claiming, claiming anew, or deciding not to claim a category)
And just in the past several months have I seen these two included in this list of initials. I’ve included links for more information on both of these because they are typically less well known and less understood than the previous ones.
- Intersex (a person who was born with genitalia that is considered ambiguous or non-standard for male or female, find out more at the Intersex Society of North America)
- Asexual (a person who does not experience sexual attraction, find out more at the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network)
And there we have it! The depth and breadth of sexual orientation and gender orientation are fascinating topics to dig into, and offer a wealth of good conversation topics between parents and young people. Take the list above and use it as a way to open a conversation on these topics – does everyone in your family know someone who identifies themselves in each of these categories? Maybe – but it’s less likely that you’ll know for certain, because particularly the last three groups listed aren’t topics that are typically talked about openly.
Come back and tell me how your conversations go! Were the teenagers you were talking with surprised by any of these categories? Did they refute their existence? Did they identify themselves within any of the groups? Did they think any groups were omitted from these categories that should be included?
This isn’t something that jsut teens need to learn about– it’s something older folk do too. I’m a 25 year old law student– last year, I was in a car with some of my law school peers, when I used the word queer. One of my friends was taken aback– said something about how she was shocked that somone who is progressive like me would use the term! I explained that it’s actually a broader term, that emcompasses a lot more than GLB, and that a lot of people our age and younger feel more comfortable identifying as queer than they do as G/L or B. I then mentioned something aobut intersex individuals… which prompted a whole second conversation, because she didn’t know intersex individuals actually existed. My fiance didn’t know much about the topics either before he started dating me. So really– the lack of knowledge on these topicsi n all ages is pretty shocking.
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