Sexual Preference vs Sexual Orientation

  • Hunter9

    Posts: 1039

    Feb 07, 2008 7:04 AM GMT
    At my place of employment, which is very accepting and open to all parts of society, lists under its non-discrimination policy "Sexual preference." I'm not offended by this, but let's face it, it is not a preference, it is an orientation. Is this worth suggesting to my HR department to change the wordage? What's your opinion?
  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Feb 07, 2008 4:17 PM GMT
    It's great that they have it at all.. if you're casually friendly with anyone in HR, you might bring it up over lunch, but other than that I wouldn't raise the flag too high on it for your own sake.

    My company has a non-discrimination policy too, but it's phrased as "affectional orientation", which I think is pretty cool.
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:22 PM GMT
    Is sexual preference a more inclusive term?

    They may be looking at it as they are not requiring anyone to have to prove an orientation, but rather covering anyone's stated preference.

    In which case, your orientation is covered, and then some.
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:27 PM GMT
    I loathe hearing or the written usage of "sexual preference." It is just too bad that we don't have word police to issue citations whenever "sexual preference" is uttered or written.
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:44 PM GMT
    Merriam-Webster equates the two.

    Main Entry: sexual pref·er·ence
    Pronunciation: -pref-(-)rens
    Function: noun
    : SEXUAL ORIENTATION

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    Feb 07, 2008 4:52 PM GMT
    Hunter, consider yourself fortunate - the last company I worked for was purchased by Norstan out of Minneapolis. When their HR people came to SF to give us an orientation, the question of Domestic Partnership Benefits came up.

    The woman leading the discussion froze for a second, then brightened up and said:

    "Oh, that came up once before, but then he married her, so it didn't really matter."

    They ran our small business into the ground in less than 2 years....

    J.
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:25 PM GMT
    "Preference" feels to me a backhanded slap of acceptance. I can swallow "orientation" much easier. I would prefer:

    Dearest Gays,

    We promise to make no more fun of you than you make of us.

    Signed,
    Str8s in HR Dept.
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:33 PM GMT
    I'd have to vote for sexual orientation for two reasons: 1) it's more accurate. At least for me, it's not a preference, and 2) the right-wing nut cases keep arguing that we choose to be gay.

    The reason for that is that it becomes legally more difficult to discriminate if the characteristic (in this case, being gay) is innate, rather than a choice . . .
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:36 PM GMT
    While I prefer to be gay, my orientation was carved for me early in life (or in gestation).

    Too often I have heard "preference" used as a weapon against gays. As in, just learn how to prefer something else; preference is a malleable state achieved with sufficient motivation/persuasion.

    Orientation makes it less "choice" sounding, and more apt to be legally protected (such as eye color, hair color, skin color).
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:36 PM GMT
    Or, er, what Dodger said.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Feb 07, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    I wince at the term "preference." I think it's akin to calling someone a "colored person" today. Close, but no cigar. And yes, some people would be offended or question how inclusive your company is if it doesn't bother to check their terminology. So, I would notify them in a respectful way, whether directly or annonymously (depending on how out you are) that you appreciate their effort, but that they're missing the mark a bit.
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:47 PM GMT
    I also believe that sexual orientation more accurately depicts us but I also don't think it should be an issue if it was a preference. A few people mentioned that this is something used against us but in fact whether it's genetics or not, it should not matter.

    To you're original question Hunter9, I'm in agreement with Alan95823. I think it's worth mentioning if you feel comfortable doing so and feel strongly enough about the use of the language "sexual preference". If there are any gay groups within the company (ie.. I'm part of CitiPride within my company Citigroup) you may want to bring this up to them and get their feedback.

    I'm going to repeat so I don't get any hate mail, I believe it is an orientation not a preference! icon_wink.gif

    Good luck with whatever you decide!
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Feb 07, 2008 5:49 PM GMT
    Alan95823 saidIt's great that they have it at all.. if you're casually friendly with anyone in HR, you might bring it up over lunch, but other than that I wouldn't raise the flag too high on it for your own sake.

    My company has a non-discrimination policy too, but it's phrased as "affectional orientation", which I think is pretty cool.




    I think Alan has it down and I agree with him. I'd be glad they are as accepting as they are. Maybe do your homework and ask about it at some opportune time.
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:49 PM GMT
    PSBigJoey: That story bugs me on a few levels. Talk about out-of-touch, cynical, and ruthless (for acquiring you to eliminate you). That woman is a hack.
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    Feb 07, 2008 5:52 PM GMT
    Sexual Orientation is a pretty loaded term. It means gay folk and doesn't really encompass other possibilities. Sexual preference could include inter-racial dating, inter-faith dating, or the usual GLBTQ,et al.

    But I would be pleased as punch that either are on there.
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    Feb 07, 2008 6:11 PM GMT
    I hate all this political correctness in the UK its got totally out of hand!! Thank god i am not living there any more!

    If anyone ask's me what i like i just say i prefer sausages rather than Liver!!
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    Feb 08, 2008 4:52 AM GMT
    Good point Kebab. I like frankness. People should not feel threatened by their orientation , but I feel both terms are acceptable .icon_razz.gif