LGBTQ Equality and Gender Expression

A Social Justice Primer for Teens and Parents

The term LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer; in some cases, you may see additional letters LGBTQQIAA which expand the acronym to include Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Ally. The term LGBTQ Equality refers to “a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.”

In practice, LGBTQ Equality most prominently addresses government policies such as the right to same-sex marriage, extension of benefits to same-sex partners, and the prohibition of discrimination on a religious basis. While historically the primary public focus of this work has been on behalf of homosexuals, and those in same-sex relationships, there is a lot of legal discrimination that takes place against people who are transgender. In addition to legal justice, LGBTQ Equality also addresses more nuanced and institutionalized forms of discrimination, and challenges for those who must live in a gender binary society but do not identify as heterosexual and cisgender (personal identity matches with the cultural expectation of the sex they were assigned at birth). Although public acceptance of the LGBTQ community is rising nationwide, the persistence of discriminatory laws and bullying behaviors have devastating effects on those who identify as LGTBQ, especially teens.

Advocating for real, lasting change requires a comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing the ways that United States history and policy, on national, organizational, and societal levels, has institutionalized the disenfranchisement of the LGBTQ community, and what can be done.

The Reform Movement Position

The Reform Jewish Movement is a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community. We are obligated to honor the fact that all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and thus, deserve to be treated equally in all facets of society. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is active in the legislative fight for LGBTQ equality, and NFTY has a long history of LGBTQ inclusion.

Questions to Explore Together:

  1. What is the difference between gender expression and sexuality?
  2. What does Judaism have to say around the ethics of sexual consent?
  3. How does heteronormativity crop up in our institutions? What can we do to make sure all forms of sexual expression are welcome in the places where we spend our time? What tools do we have to do this?

Taking Action

Raising awareness is the first step, but in order to affect real change, ongoing, tangible action needs to be taken. Your family, and your teen, may consider some of the following options to take their learning to the next level: