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What does it mean to be homosexual, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, queer or questioning?

These are some words to describe different types of relationships that you or other young people might have (the legal term is in brackets if there is a different legal term). Some young people like to use names like this. Other young people don’t like labels. It’s their choice. The law names these things so that people can talk about them more easily.

  • Lesbian (homosexual) – a woman who likes to be in a sexual relationship with another woman
  • Gay (homosexual) –a man who likes to be in a sexual relationship with another man a woman who likes to be in a sexual relationship with another woman
  • Straight (heterosexual) – a woman who likes to be in a sexual relationship with a man or a man who likes to be in a sexual relationship with a woman
  • Bisexual – a woman who likes to be in a sexual relationship with either a woman or a man, or a man who likes to be in a sexual relationship with either a woman or a man
  • Asexual – a man or woman who doesn’t like to be in a sexual relationship with either a man or a woman
  • Queer– this is a collective word for any person who is not straight (heterosexual) or who is transgender or intersex
  • Questioning – a person who is wondering about the kinds of relationships that they would like to be in (for example they might be wondering “am I a lesbian?”, “am I gay?” or “am I bisexual?”)

The law says that people who work for organisations (for example teachers, support workers, youth workers, physiotherapists, Centrelink workers) can’t discriminate against you because you are one of the types of people listed above, or because they think you might be (except in special situations). For example, a doctor can’t refuse to help you just because you are a lesbian. If somebody breaks this law, you can contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission for help, or to complain.