A Preference for Sexual Orientation

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Liz Fletcher Brown
Mentoring Program Coordinator
Fort Worth, Texas

In the article “Gay Youth Leaders?” [September], you and others consistently referred to sexual orientation as “sexual preference.” The term “sexual preference” implies a choice on the part of a member of the sexual minority; i.e., a gay man “prefers” men, he has a choice and he chooses men. This is not the case.

Anti-gay-rights groups use the term “preference” to promote their belief that those in the sexual minority could change if they want to. This attitude leads to discrimination and the denial of basic human rights (legal marriage, adoption of children, etc.).
I have worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters as a case manager, and was very proud of its decision to make official a policy that has been unspoken but understood in most agencies for years. However, I am extremely disappointed that, while BBBS has made a significant step toward ending discrimination against members of the sexual minority, its administrative officers continue to use discriminatory language.

Please consider that the term “sexual preference” is at least politically incorrect and at worst oppressive and conducive to discrimination. The correct, justice-oriented term is “sexual orientation,” and it is my hope that BBBS will soon align its language properly.

Editor’s note: The article used both “sexual orientation” and “sexual preference,” the latter when referring to the BBBS description of its policy or in direct quotations.

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