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Lesbian Lives Information Pack

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Glossary of Terms

Anti-semitism - Discrimination based on Jewish lineage or identity.

Bisexual - A person who may be sexually or emotionally attracted to either men or women; woman who may relate sexually or emotionally to either men or woman.

Coming out - Acknowledging one's non-heterosexual identity, to oneself or to others.

Discrimination - Hostile or unequal treatment of an individual or group; creating or promoting social inequality.

Dyke - Another term used to describe a lesbian.

Equal opportunity - Equal opportunity exists when every person has the same chance to participate in all areas of life. These include health, education, law, housing, economic development, work and access to services. Equal opportunity cannot exist without its sub-component, equal access. For example, health services may be open to all, but if lesbians receive hostile treatment from doctors, they do not have equal access to those services.

Gay man - A man who is sexually or emotionally attracted to men; a man who relates sexually or emotionally to men.

Gay woman - Another term used to describe a lesbian.

Gender role - The set of characteristics which a culture expects from people of each sex. Gender roles also prescribe the relationship between men and women,(e.g.. Man protects woman, woman minds man's home etc.) Heterosexists claim that gender roles are dictated by nature and use that 'fact' to discriminate against lesbians. Some lesbians also choose to act out either 'male' or 'female' gender roles. Heterosexism The ideology which states that heterosexuality is the only acceptable form of sexual/cultural expression; the implementation of heterosexist ideology through policy or action.

Lesbian - A woman who is sexually or emotionally attracted to women; a woman who relates sexually or emotionally to women.

Homophobia -Ideas or actions rooted in fear of or antagonism towards lesbians and gays. Ideas or actions which obstruct the existence and development of the lesbian and gay population.

Myth - A popular idea about social patterns which is based on false assumptions such as, women need/want to be protected by men.

Oppression - The systematic exclusion, domination and unequal treatment of individuals or groups within a society.

Queer - Another term used to describe a lesbian, or a gay man.

Racism - Discrimination based on race/ethnicity.

Sectarianism - Discrimination based on religious identity.

Stereotypes - A set of images and expectations relating to appearance, behaviour and personality traits of particular groups in society which bear no reference to individuals. Stereotypes are often far from reality, are constantly reinforced through the popular media and become ingrained in the popular psyche. One stereotype of a lesbian is that of a mannish, man-hating woman. Sexism - Hostile or discriminatory treatment on the basis of gender; the creation of unequal power relationships on the basis of gender; requiring, expecting or encouraging people to act out gender roles.



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