Reproductive Justice

Reproductive Justice Glossary

The following definitions are a non-exhaustive list of terms that advocates may come across in doing LGBTQ sex education advocacy. For more definitions and information please check out the Creating Change 2019 program packet at as well as SIECUS’ Community Action toolkit at

Abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM): Sex education programs that emphasize abstinence from all sexual behaviors outside of heterosexual marriage. If contraception or disease prevention methods are discussed, these programs typically emphasize failure rates. In addition, they often present marriage as the only morally correct context for sexual activity. Also referred to as “Sexual Risk Avoidance” programs. (SIECUS)

Aromanticism or Aro: A romantic orientation where a person experiences little to no romantic attraction and/or has no desire to form romantic relationships. Like asexuality, it exists on a spectrum which involves a range of identities characterized by varying levels of romantic attraction. This spectrum is called the aromantic spectrum. Aromantic people can identify with any sexual orientation along with their aromantic identity, or they may just identify as aromantic.

Asexuality or Ace: A sexual orientation where a person
experiences little to no sexual attraction to anyone and/or does not experience desire for sexual contact. Asexuality is a spectrum, and there are some people who may not fit the strictest definition of
the word asexual, but feel their experience aligns more with asexuality than with other sexual orientations.

Bisexual: A person whose romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction is towards same and/or different genders.

Gay: A person whose romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction
is towards their own gender, most commonly used for men.

Gender nonconforming (GNC) or genderqueer: A term for people whose gender expression is different from societal expectations related to gender.

Intersex: Refers to a person who is born with sexual or reproductive anatomy that does not fit within the sex binary of male or female, encompassing a variety of sex expressions.

LGBTQ: Shorthand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer.

Lesbian: A woman whose romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction is towards other women.

Non-binary: A term used by people who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female. This can include people who are agender, genderqueer, and GNC, among others.

Queer: An umbrella term which embraces a variety of sexual preferences, orientation, and habits of those who are not among the exclusively heterosexual and monogamous majority. Although the term was once considered derogatory and offensive, the community has reclaimed the word and now uses it widely as a ormf of empowerment. Younger generations tend to use the term “queer” for reasons such as the fact that it does not assume the gender of the queer person or the gender of any potential romantic partners, and/or in order to make a political statement about the fluidity of gender.

Sex education: School-based education programs that start in kindergarten and continue through 12th grade and include developmentally accurate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behaviors including abstinence, sexual health, and society and culture. Sex education programs provide students with opportunities for learning information, exploring their attitudes and values, and developing skills. (SIECUS)

Sex education advisory board (SEAB): An entity that is generally tasked with determining the existence, content, and structure of sex education in school districts. Though the roles and structure of SEABs vary by state, many are required to be comprised of students, parents, educators, community health professionals, and local clergy. In Michigan, SEABs establish program goals and objectives for sex education and review materials and methods of sex education instruction.

Sexual orientation: A person’s identity in relation to whom they are attracted to; a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality. Sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct components of a person’s identity.

Transgender: A broad term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned gender at birth. “Trans” is shorthand for “transgender.” (Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, hence “transgender people,” but “transgenders” or “transgendered” is often viewed as disrespectful.)

This Glossary is an excerpt from the Guide on Implementing Queer- and Trans-Inclusive Sex Education in Michigan.

Download the full Guide [PDF]