The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Gender Orientation and Sexual Orientation 

November 14, 2021

For someone who doesn’t know a lot about the LGBTQ+ community, the different genders and terms can be confusing. This infographic includes different explanations of the loosely defined gender orientation terms. “The gender spectrum is so broad because we want to include everyone, so there aren’t really any strict definitions of what equals what,” Neisius said. (Elle Rotter)

Education is an important part of forming opinions. Before learning how gender and sexual orientations are different and comparing them, let’s look at them separately.

“Gender orientation relates to who you are and your emotional connection to your identity, not the way or state you were born,” junior and co-leader of Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club Juniper (Bella) Neisius said. 

Genderism is a belief that gender is composed of two distinct and opposite genders, women and men, in which there is no overlap. Now, we know that’s not the case. Scientist Cade Hildreth explains that gender can’t be binary because it is a socially structured, personal identity. In other words, there are people that exist between the female and male gender identities, and there are not only two genders. Although in the past, society has believed in the concept that there are two genders, our world is constantly changing, and people are constantly changing too. Someone can also go through many labels when finding a sense of self-identity

The variety of sexual orientation terms help better understand the different identities of the LGBTQ+ community. (Elle Rotter)

And although I have tried to provide definitions above to help increase understanding of different genders and sexualities, there are no strict borders on what classifies as what. What is important to know is these titles are chosen by each specific person. For example, the difference between bi and pansexual is nuanced and could be purely based on which title the person feels the most comfortable using. 

Gender is a broad term that relates to everyone on a spectrum and embodies each and every individual person and how they act in society. Meanwhile, sexual orientation is based on what type of sexual attraction someone feels towards another person, and romantic orientation is based on what type of romantic attraction someone feels.

There are an infinite number of genders, because they exist in a spectrum in which each person can explore within those identities. (Elle Rotter)

One junior identifies as aromantic and asexual but wishes to remain anonymous. She explains the difference between sexual and romantic attraction as the words themselves. Sexual attraction is how you sexually feel toward someone, while romantic attraction is how you feel romantically towards someone. Someone who is asexual may still have romantic relationships or ‘crushes,’ and someone who is aromantic may still have sexual relationships.

“[As someone who identifies as pansexual,] I don’t like a person based on their gender but based on how we interact. I don’t feel more attracted to one gender over another,” Neisius said. “[I like someone] for who they are and who they identify as.”

Teachers in Parkway have had training on different terms that relate to the LGBTQ+ community. Principal Dr. Jeremy Mitchell also reports that the district has enacted new procedures to help students of all minorities feel safe. 

Hildreth confirmed that both gender orientation and sexual orientation exist as a spectrum. Scientists in neuroscience, reproductive science and biology have confirmed this belief.  

“This should not be a place where you have to worry about some outside influence. We want every student to walk around the halls, get a good education and enjoy themselves. School isn’t always fun but we also don’t want students to feel like they can’t be themselves,” Mitchell said. 

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