A brief list of LGBTQ-related definitions

(Note: this is an abbreviated list. Please refer to a more complete list, courtesy WelcomingSchools.org)

Ally: A term that describes a person who speaks out or takes actions on behalf of someone else or for a group that they are not a part of.

Asexual: A term that describes a person who lacks sexual attraction or desire for other people.

Bisexual or Bi: A term that describes a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of more than one sex, gender or gender identity, though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree.

Cisgender: A term that describes a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Gay: A term that describes a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted predominantly to members of the same gender. This is sometimes used to refer to men who are attracted to other men, but can be used for a person of any gender who is attracted to members of the same gender.

Gender: A person’s internal sense of self as male, female, both, or neither (gender identity), as well as one’s outward presentation and behaviors (gender expression). Gender norms vary among cultures and over time.

Gender Expression: How a person expresses their gender through outward presentation and behavior. This includes, for example, a person’s name, clothing, hairstyle, body language and mannerisms.

Gender Identity: An internal, deeply felt sense of being male, female, a blend of both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same as or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Heterosexual: A term describing a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted predominantly to people of a different gender. Also known as straight.

Homophobia: Fear, hatred, antagonism, or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex or gender.

Homosexual: A term describing a person who is attracted predominantly to members of the same sex or gender. This term is usually used in medical or scientific references. More common conversational terms are gay, lesbian, or queer.

Intersex: The term used for the 2% of babies who are born with naturally occurring variations in chromosomes, hormones, genitalia, and other sex characteristics.

Lesbian: A term describing a woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted predominantly to women.

LGBTQ: An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning. Additions to this acronym can include A, for “asexual” or “ally,” and I, for “intersex.”

Queer: A term some people use to identify themselves with a flexible and inclusive view of gender and/or sexuality. Also used interchangeably with LGBTQ to describe a group of people such as “queer youth.” It is also seen in academic fields, such as queer studies or queer theory. Historically, it was sometimes used as a negative term for LGBTQ people.

Sex: One’s biological and physical attributes––external genitalia, sex chromosomes and internal reproductive structures––that are used to assign someone as male or female at birth.

Sexual Orientation: Describes a person’s emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Some examples of sexual orientations are gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual.

Straight: A slang term for heterosexual.

Transgender or Trans: A term used to describe people who identify as a different gender from the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. Being transgender is an identity. It does not indicate or imply that a person has undergone gender affirmation surgery (e.g. surgery to affirm the person's identified gender).