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Greetings all! I am a physiology professor and parent of 3 teens! We are in a deep red state and my kids are rare blue dots in their schools. During a conversation with my daughter, I realized the profound lack of information most kids her age have about sex (not the baby making kind), gender, and sexual preference. They are taught the bare minimum of human physiology in school.  As the kids get older, issues of sexuality and sexual preference are naturally more common and more complex. And unlike the passive tolerance I saw when they were young (Isaac has two moms? Shrug. Pass the legos) there is far more judgment of their peers who are "different".  I am surmising that in the absence of real scientific information, kids are getting their information from church. And, as we all know, churches down here in the south tend to reinforce only the most basic, binary male/female plug/socket version of human behavior. But there is hope for them! Ignorance can be cured with information. So help me with my simple plan...

Since I'm educationally inclined, I'm trying to generate a simple page that conveys the complexity of sex, gender, and sexuality and why marriage discrimination is wrong and about far more than whether you "agree with" homosexuality.  The definition of marriage as strictly between "male" and "female" leaves a rather large group of individuals out. The entire LGBTIQ spectrum, in fact. So here is my quick fact sheet. Please help me edit and simplify. I want my kids to have a decent scientific basis for their opinions and some real information with which they can counter the homophobic arguments of their peers.

Marriage between a man and a woman sounds straight forward. But what makes a man a man and a woman a woman?  The answer is a combination of chromosomes (sex), physical traits (gender) and sexual orientation.  Each of these factors has both a predominant version and less common variations.

About 2 in every 1000 people in the US (between .25% and 1%) do not have XX (female) or XY (male) chromosomes.  Instead, they have either a single X or some combination of three sex chromosomes (XXX, XXY, or XYY).

Between 1 and 2 million people were born with genitals that are not clearly male or female and may not have active ovaries or testes to drive gender development.

Most individuals express a preference for forming relationships with a person of the opposite sex / gender. But about 2% men and women are attracted to individuals of the same sex/gender.

This means that between 3% and 5 % of the population – or over  ten million  people - fall outside the definition of a traditional relationship being between a “man” and a “woman”.

For comparison, that’s about the same number of:

People that have green eyes
People who are a twin
People who are vegetarians
People with a doctoral or professional degree of any kind

And even green-eyed twin vegetarian doctors can get married

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't think that we have a clear (5+ / 0-)

    consensus on some of this. Humans are a combination of biology and social construction i.e nature and nurture. Clearly their are biological differences between males and females in about 99% of people. There are a small number of people with intersex conditions. Yet various cultures define all sorts of roles and expectations that are really tied to biology.

    In recent years the term gender has come to almost completely replace sex in some spheres of discussion. This has come about in part from various forms of feminist theory that prefers to emphasize the social construction rather than the biological essentialism. There is a movement of radical feminist that claim that it is totally socially constructed.

  •  Sex, orientation and gender are three different (9+ / 0-)

    things.

    Biological sex is karyotype and phenotype. It is not binary; there are more human karyotypes than XX and XY, and there are a range of anatomical phenotypes.

    Assigned sex is whichever (binary) socially constructed sex you are assigned to at birth. Since there are other karyotypes than XX and XY, and many phenotypes of sexual anatomy, this has an arbitrary element.

    Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to.

    Gender is a social category, and also a mental sense of which social category you belong in. People usually have a sense of which gender they belong to by the age of 5 or so, and it does not always correspond to their assigned sex or biological sex. It also does not guarantee a particular sexual orientation.

    Sorry it is so complicated, but it just is. Living things are complicated and diverse.

    •  That's four things. (3+ / 0-)

      Good stuff, though!

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:20:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, or even more (3+ / 0-)

        The literature distinguishes biological sex, assigned sex, social gender, gender of rearing, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

        •  Obviously LGBTQIA is not... (3+ / 0-)

          ...enough initials.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:32:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What about Pan? Not snark. I read that somewhere. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HeyMikey, thanatokephaloides

            I honestly have no idea what pansexual is.

            Oh for crying out loud!

            by 4mygirls on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:43:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  pansexual (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HeyMikey, Sharon Wraight
              What about Pan? Not snark. I read that somewhere.

              I honestly have no idea what pansexual is.

              Pansexual individuals are attracted to individuals as individuals, independently of their positions on the physical gender/sexual orientation matrix.

              (Yes, it can get complicated!)

              Pansexual events are events, such as dating parties, which are themselves pansexual in nature; i.e., accepting of pansexual individuals.

              See this article for more details.

              [snark:]

              Either the above, or someone who desires sexual relations with Classical Greek hemicaprine Gods known for playing arrays of wind pipes.   ;-)

              [/snark]

              "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

              by thanatokephaloides on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 04:05:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  catch me up on the Greek? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thanatokephaloides

                hemi: half

                caprine: capricorn > goatlike

                hemicaprine > half-goat > satyr?

                thanato: death

                -phaloid: shaped like, in substance like?

                -ke-: I dunno

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 04:45:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Greco-Latin vocabulary (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HeyMikey
                  catch me up on the Greek?
                  Hokay. Some of it's Greek and some Latin.
                  hemi: half
                  caprine: capricorn > goatlike
                  hemicaprine > half-goat > satyr?
                  Exactly. Pan was a half-humanoid (from the waist up) and half goat-like (from the waist down) satyr-like deity.
                  thanato: death
                  -phaloid: shaped like, in substance like?
                  -ke-: I dunno
                  You got thanatos, the source of "thanato-", correct. The other parts are:

                  kephalos, head
                  and
                  -oides, like or shaped like

                  resulting in a pidgin Greek term thanatokephaloides, colloquial meaning "Dead Head" (as in Grateful).

                  "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

                  by thanatokephaloides on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 10:30:37 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Aha! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    thanatokephaloides

                    I'm accustomed to seeing cephalos used to refer to head or brain. (I'm a disability lawyer, so I see a fair number of clients who've had encephalopathy or sometimes hydrocephalus). If I ever knew about kephalos, I'd forgotten.

                    Speaking of which, I gotta get back to work. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary!

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 05:22:02 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  kephalos (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      HeyMikey
                      I'm accustomed to seeing cephalos used to refer to head or brain. (I'm a disability lawyer, so I see a fair number of clients who've had encephalopathy or sometimes hydrocephalus). If I ever knew about kephalos, I'd forgotten.
                      That's your original Greek coming into play. There's no letter "C" in Greek. (One form of small sigma occasionally has that form, but "C", as we know it in modern English, is a Roman invention.) Thus, the Latino-English root "cephalo-" comes from kephalos.
                      Speaking of which, I gotta get back to work. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary!
                      You're welcome!   :-)

                      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

                      by thanatokephaloides on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 01:18:06 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Reminds me of Mr. Martini... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        thanatokephaloides

                        ...my high school Latin teacher. He taught us the Latin the Romans spoke had only the k sound for c. The s sound for c was a later invention of the Catholic Church.

                        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                        by HeyMikey on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:29:31 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for the nice reply. And the snark : ) nt (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thanatokephaloides, HeyMikey

                Oh for crying out loud!

                by 4mygirls on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:18:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  somebody told me that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thanatokephaloides, HeyMikey

                she was pansexual once.  i didn't get why that wouldn't just be "bisexual".

                The Senate has no guts. The House has no brains.

                by gossamer1234 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:32:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  pansexual/bisexual (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HeyMikey
                  somebody told me that she was pansexual once.  i didn't get why that wouldn't just be "bisexual".
                  As I understand it, pansexuals "decide to love first and arrange the plumbing later".

                  To quote one of my favorite comediennes (Amy Schumer), "it can get complicated".

                  "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

                  by thanatokephaloides on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 10:35:03 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, that's what I'm trying to say! (0+ / 0-)

      Just in more simple terms :-)

  •  Let an evangelical tell'em! (13+ / 0-)

    Here's an excellent column by an evangelical, explaining:

    As Christians, our most “deeply held religious belief” is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinful people, and that in imitation of that, we are called to love God, to love our neighbors, and to love even our enemies to the point of death.

    So I think we can handle making pastries for gay people.

    And I think that refusing to serve gay and lesbian people, and advancing legislation that denies others their civil liberties in response to perceived threats to our own, does irreparable damage to our witness as Christians and leaves a whole group of people feeling like second-class citizens, not only in our country, but also in the Kingdom. There may be second-class citizens in the U.S. and in Uganda and in Russia, but there should be no second-class citizens in the Kingdom.  

    As I’ve made it clear in the past, I support marriage equality and affirm my gay and lesbian friends who want to commit themselves to another person for life.  But even if I didn’t, even if I believed same-sex marriage was a sin, I could never, in good conscience, throw my support behind a law that would put my gay and lesbian neighbors behind bars for being gay or allow businesses free range to discriminate against them because of their orientation.

    Because over and beyond my beliefs regarding homosexuality is my most deeply-held conviction that I am called to love my neighbor as myself…even if it costs me something, even if it means walking a second mile.


    http://rachelheldevans.com/...

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 01:55:24 PM PST

  •  I might try to lighten it up a little - (2+ / 0-)

    but then I taught middle school and 9th grade back when I was teaching.  Sounds "good" or "OK" rather than "straight forward"  for example.  And "dominant/recessive" is what they are likely to be learning in their school science classes (if at all) rather than "predominant version and less common variations." But you know your kids.

    •  What the author is talking about is not due to (3+ / 0-)

      recessive vs dominant traits, so those terms are not appropriate.

      •  Just trying to point out that if you are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew F Cockburn

        writing for a specific audience, it's a good idea to know what terminology they are familiar with and what they are not likely to be.  Introducing unfamiliar terminology is of course part of teaching, but that's a 2-part deal - introducing new terminology and new concepts at the same time in the same lesson can create a hurdle the student in question may not feel inclined to leap (i.e. can be counterproductive).  So either introduce the concept using terminology they are familiar with or introduce the new terminology by linking it to terminology they are familiar with and proceed from there.

        •  Sure, but don't use terms that they are familiar (0+ / 0-)

          with in ways that imply a false equivalency. In this case the contrast is between common and rare, not dominant and recessive.

          For example, the allele for achondroplastic dwarfism is dominant, but it is also very rare. The normal allele is recessive, but it is much more common.

  •  There are a number of good youtube videos as well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, thanatokephaloides

    Here is a good one:
    https://www.youtube.com/...

    "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

    by MarthaPeregrine on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:07:39 PM PST

  •  No problem. Once the Tea Party takes over we (4+ / 0-)

    have a plan to do some cleansing and get rid of all those deviant types. PhDs and vegetarians were already on our list; thanks for the additional suggestions.

  •  If FB has 50 "catagories" now (5+ / 0-)

    Then we definitely don't have enough letters to go around.  My thing is that we are human, and human rights are for everyone.  It sounds trite, but it's true.

    Btw, I'm sorry for your children.  My son grew up in AK and IL, one red, one blue, but I made sure that, "hmm...pass the legos" stayed the norm in my house.

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 02:44:55 PM PST

  •  Use Of The Term Sexual Preference Implies A (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, atana, TexasLiz

    choice and some find it offensive versus the more appropriate term Sexual Orientation.

    Offensive: "sexual preference"
     Preferred: "sexual orientation" or "orientation"
    The term "sexual preference" is typically used to suggest that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a choice and therefore can and should be "cured." Sexual orientation is the accurate description of an individual's enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and straight men and women (see AP, New York Times & Washington Post Style).
    https://www.glaad.org/...

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 03:44:36 PM PST

    •  It's unfortunate we sometimes have to chop (0+ / 0-)

      terminology to work around haters.

      "Preference" connotes "free choice" to a certain prescientific mindset, but the extent to which "free choice" plays any role at all in what brains do is highly debatable, and is the subject of ongoing experimental research.

      •  Sexuality and gender are seperate but intertwined (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasLiz

        Sexuality who you are interested for cuddling and Gender how you identify male, female someplace in between are a result of genetic, epigenitic (in the womb) and God only knows what (literally) affect the direction. This from twin studies and chromosome which we are just begining to understand.

    •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

      That's the kind of feedback I was looking for. I want to be informative and model the language I want my kids to use. Thanks!

      •  What Is Sad Is That The Haters Set The Agenda (0+ / 0-)

        as far as terminology used to refer to gays and lesbians.  That terminology has a long, long history and has been picked up by even those with goodwill towards gays and lesbians.  It was the language they heard as well and have often adopted without giving it much thought.  Some complain that gays and lesbians are trying to be all PC and change everything.  Well we are changing everything.  Everything that has an unfair bias.  Imagine hearing someone use the old term "an admitted lesbian".  Think about that one.  What does that imply?  Of course it was used to imply that something is wrong with admitting you are a lesbian.  To shut you up.  To feel shame.  To get others to believe there is something wrong with being a lesbian.  And to keep the camaraderie of hate going even among those who have no hate.  It has nothing to do with being an "out" lesbian.  It has everything to do with constant hate language.  I would think those of goodwill toward gays and lesbians (humans in general) would feel used by being hoodwinked into using these terms.  I was saddened to see the news anchor who was reporting on the Jan Brewer veto use the term Sexual Preference.  So even supposed journalists have no awareness of the biased language they use and it's 2014.

        Now watch this clip of a movie  that was shown in the public schools in the 50's and 60's equating gays and lesbians (the homosexuals) with pedophiles.  Think about that.  How insidious to equate pedophilia with homosexuals and presenting that definition to children.  That lasts a lifetime and in my opinion why we have people in their 50's, 60's, and 70's who still haven't gotten over that education (indoctrination) to this day.  There is still that lingering uneasiness of the "homosexual" because they were taught to equate it to pedophilia.  And then all the terminology they grew up with just re-inforced it.  Those older folks should realize they were indoctrinated and feel 'used', but often instead they cling to those beliefs and continue to believe them.

        http://www.youtube.com/...

        "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

        by kerplunk on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 11:52:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm doing my sexuality and gender (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasLiz

    lectures in a couple of weeks. I always start off the discussion with "what is a woman?" How do you define what is "female"? And then I walk them through the biology of "biological sex" and show them how truly precarious that is.

    Your stats are very interesting. Do you have sources for them? I'd love to use them in my lecture.

    Tyrion Lannister: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."

    by psychodrew on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 06:07:11 PM PST

  •  There are only two types of people , (0+ / 0-)

    those who want to be with / have sex with others
    and those that don't .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:59:38 PM PST

  •  Your breakdown is a bit different... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasLiz

    ...from my understanding.  I thought sex was determined by anatomy and gender by emotional and physiological identity.  One way I once heard it put was sex is what is between your legs and gender is what is between your ears.

    Also, is there a term for those you mention who do not have the usual xx or xy combination and can they be picked out by appearance.

    •  From a science POV, sex = chromosomes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vadem165

      It's why congress occasionally gets their panties in a bunch when they look over titles of funded projects and see things with the word "sex" in it ;-)

      Gender is a more complex and socially-informed construct. Society works mostly off of appearance so that tends to trump genetics when we decide if someone is "male" or "female".

      There are several names for the syndromes - Turner's syndrome is a single X. These are women with a few identifyable characteristics - short stature, a thick neck, infertility - but the degree can vary. XXX is just called triple X and has few visible characteristics but women may be infertile. XXY is called Kleinfelter's syndrome. This causes a range of "feminizing" effects in males. XYY doesn't have a specific name (that I know of) but there is some evidence that it is associated with increased aggression in males (evidence is not great on that one, though).  Finally, there are XY females. This happens if part of the Y chromosome that would normally drive male development is missing, mutated or inactive. The result is an individual with female gender and male chromosomes. Ann Coulter is widely speculated to have this disorder ;-)

      •  Regarding the xy females... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is that what prompts transgenderism or gender identity disorder?

        I would say its a little more than appearance that drives gender-sorting.  I suspect most people assume a direct and absolutely universal correlation between sex and gender and would first ask, at the risk of sounding very blunt, "What's the genitalia?" though I know every once in a while even that is not obvious.

  •  basic requirement for non-discrimination (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasLiz

    You're obviously very intelligent, and that makes it painful for me to disagree with you.  You arguments are well thought out, your comparisons are lovely in their scope, and your ending line is beautiful.

    But.

    I personally believe that you are making this issue more complicated than it has to be.  

    The only thing that should be required is one question.

    Is he/she/it human?

    If the answer to that question is no, as in the case of the Koch brothers and Darth Cheney, then discrimination may, in some form or another, not only be allowed but required to keep them from killing again.

    If the answer is yes, then that individual falls in the category of 'No Discrimination Allowed'.  Period.  No discrimination because of sex, gender identification, race, religion or lack thereof, or color.  No discrimination due to disability or illness, addiction or level of intelligence, none.  At all. Period, again, for emphasis.

    Please teach your children, and have them teach their friends, their acquaintances, and the kids and adults they don't like, actively dislike for one reason or another, and those they simply have no interest in, that it is unwise and inhuman to discriminate against other human beings, no matter what their situation.

    They may have to depend on the abilities and kindness of others for their lives one day, and that becomes embarrassing if the one you hope can save you is the one you've belittled all your life, for whatever reason.

    No Discrimination Allowed.  Make it your mantra, teach it to everyone you interact with in any situation, and take it to the wilderness on your days off, teach the uneducated and the sinner, for all have fallen short of the glory of Tolerance at some point in their lives, and teaching it to others will ingrain it in your heart and soul as well.

    And we may all live to see the Enlightenment.

    Hopefully,

    Henry D. Rinehart

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