Sexuality is the condition of being known or noted by sex. Sexuality affects thoughts, feelings, actions, interactions, and thereby our mental and physical health. Within every community, there is a range of personal and social moral, beliefs, values and ethics related to sexuality. The role of sexuality changes throughout the stages of an individual’s life.
Sexual identity has many sides and includes our sex, gender, sexual nature, and sexual expression. Our sexual identity has many sides:
Sex: Am I male or female? Refers to our biological femaleness or maleness. There are two levels: genetic (our chromosomal sex) and our anatomical sex (the external and internal sexual organs). A person can also be inter-sexual (mixed sexual characteristics).
Gender: Describes the mental and social meaning added to being a man or a woman.
Gender Identity: Our personal sense of “I am a man, I am a woman” (which may or may not be the same as birth sex, ex. transgender).
Gender Role: What roles do men and women adopt? What’s different? What’s the same? Gender role is a collection of attitudes and behaviors that are considered normal and correct in a specific culture for a particular sex.
Sexual Nature: To whom, am I sexually and emotionally attracted? Sexual nature refers to our capacity to develop intimate, emotional, and/or sexual relationships with the same sex(lesbian, gay), the other sex (heterosexual), or both sexes (bisexual).
Biology: What changes will I go through at puberty? What effect will my hormones have on me? What physical and mental changes will I experience at various life stages?
Relationships: How do I know who I am? How will I relate to others?
Values and Beliefs: How do I make choices about what is right and wrong? What is the basis for my sexual decision-making? How do my culture and/or religion shape my values and beliefs regarding sexuality?
Reproductive Decisions: How important is it to me, to be a parent? Will I become a parent? If so, when and with whom? If not, what will I do to prevent that?
Sexual Health: How will I remain sexually healthy? How can I protect my partner and myself, now and in the future, from diseases and emotional harm?
Feelings: What feelings do I have about sexuality and sexual relationships? How do I experience intimacy?
Social Skills: How secure do I feel in social settings? Do I know the right limits?
Thoughts/Fantasies: Sometimes I will just wonder about things or imagine them: is it something I would choose to do or not? How would I handle this?
Media: How do the media (TV shows, movies, music videos, print materials) show sex relationships, and other sexuality issues?
(Source: Beyond the Basics: A Sourcebook on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education. 2001)
To learn more about sexuality click here:
Sexuality and You www.sexualityandu.ca
Rainbow Resource Centre www.rainbowresourcecentre.org