Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
District 16 York Region

LGBTQ e-Source Glossary

This Glossary is Intended as a Teacher Resourse ONLY


A non-LGBTQ person whose attitudes and behaviors are anti-heterosexist in perspective and who works towards combating homophobia and heterosexism, both on a personal and institutional level.


Someone who has a lack of sexual attraction, or interest in or desire for sex. Sometimes, it is considered a lack of a sexual orientation. Unlike celibacy, which is a choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.


Someone who is attracted, emotionally and/or physically, to both men and women.


A LGBTQ person who hides their sexual orientation from either themselves or others or both. A closeted person has yet to come out, has decided not to do so or does not identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. This term can be used disparagingly.

Come Out

To declare to oneself and/or publicly affirm one’s homosexual identity, sometimes to one person in conversation, sometimes by an act that places one in the public eye. Or by opening up in an internet forum.  It is not a single event but instead a lifelong process. In each new situation, a person must decide whether or not to come out.


Wearing clothes of the gender other than that assigned to them at birth, dressing in clothes commonly worn by the other gender for entertainment, comfort or to make a political statement.

Disorders of Sex Development (DSD)

Defined in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 2006 article, “Consensus Statement on Intersex Disorders” as “congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomic sex is atypical.” The definitions of such older terms such as “hermaphrodite” and "“intersex” were considered problematic because of a lack of consensus on definitions and because they labeled persons (rather than conditions).

For more information, see Accord Alliance, who provide on-line information and resources to support understanding and improvements in the care and well-being of persons with DSD and their families.


A derogatory slur for lesbians. Reclaimed by some as a term of pride.  Refer to the Q&A section for more details.


A derogatory slur for gay men. Reclaimed by some as a term of pride. Derived from the word faggot (literally “small bundle of sticks”), an allusion to the Inquisition-era practice of burning people at the stake for suspected homosexual practices.  Refer to the Q&A section for more details.


Female-to-male (FTM): A person born or assigned at birth as biologically female, who identifies as a male and who takes the sex, gender, and identity of a male through dress, mannerisms, behavior, hormone therapy, and/or surgery.


While “gay” is sometimes used to refer to both men and women, it generally refers to men. Sometimes used derogatorily (i.e. “That’s so gay!”)


The social construction of masculinity and femininity in a specific culture in time. It involves gender assignment (the gender designation of someone at birth), gender roles (the expectations imposed on someone based on their gender), gender attribution (how others perceive someone’s gender), and gender identity (how someone defines their own gender).

Gender Identity/Expression

The gender that a person sees themselves as. This can include refusing to label oneself with a gender. Gender identity is also often conflated with sexual orientation, but this is inaccurate. Gender identity/expression does not cause sexual orientation. For example, a masculine woman is not necessarily a lesbian.


Scientific term now referred to as intersex in the LGBTQ community.  See intersex.


A viewpoint that expresses heterosexuality is the "normal" sexual preference instead of being one of many possibilities. Often expressed subtly, heterosexuality is widely "accepted" as the default sexuality by both print and electronic media, education, law makers, and a range of attitudes expressed by society in general. The subtle assumption of heterosexuality can be harmful to those who do not entirely fit within its bounds.


The conviction, bias or assumption that heterosexuality is the only way to live normally or naturally one's life. This belief reinforces the idea that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are not normal, are rejected and invisible, and that heterosexuality is better than homosexuality.


A person whose sexual orientation is toward members of the opposite gender; a person who has emotional, social, psychological and physical commitment and responses to members of the opposite gender.

Heterosexual Privilege

The benefits granted automatically to heterosexual people that are denied to LGBTQ members.


A fear and hatred of LGBTQ people based on a lack of knowledge and cultural conditioning. The discomfort, fear, hatred, and ignorance towards the realities of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people. It is expressed through discrimination, exclusion, prejudice, abuse, and violence (verbal or physical). 


A person who is attracted emotionally and/or physically to people of the same sex - lesbian or gay. The term ‘homosexual’ is no longer used to refer to an individual – the terms gay for a man and lesbian for a woman are usually preferred.

Institutional Oppression

Institutional arrangements of a society used to benefit one group at the expense of another, illustrated through the use of language, media, education, economics, religion, etc.

Internalized Homophobia

Assimilation of homophobic attitudes and behaviours leading to a lack of affirmation of one's sexual orientation to others or to oneself. A person that experiences internalized homophobia may refuse to accept him or herself as LGBTQ and may reject or vilify homosexuals or bisexuals.

Interlocking Symbols

A double male symbol represents gay men.

A double female symbol represents lesbians.

A single female symbol and a single male symbol represents heterosexuals.

A male and female symbol on the same ring, symbolizes the male and female parts inherent in one person, representing transgenders.

A double male symbol with a single female symbol (or double female symbol with a single male symbol) represents bisexuals (not shown).


Someone whose sex glands do not totally match the sex assigned at birth (e.g. male with ovarian tissue or female with testicular tissue), or one whose sexual development does not match the sex assigned at birth. Surgery is usually done to “normalize” the child’s sex before the child has had a chance to express which gender they would identify with.

The Lambda

Chosen by the Gay Activist Alliance in 1970 as the symbol of the gay movement, the lambda is the Greek letter L. The Greeks considered balance to be the constant adjustment necessary to keep opposing forces from overcoming each other. The hook at the bottom of the right leg of the lambda represents the action required to reach and maintain a balance. To the Spartans, the lambda meant unity. They felt that society should never infringe on anyone’s individuality and freedom. The Romans adopted the letter to represent “the light of knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance.” Finally, in physics the symbol designates an energy change.


A woman who is attracted emotionally and/or physically to women.


An acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer. Can also included TS for two-spirited, Q for questioning, and an asterisk to cover those who are not heterosexual but resist being placed under another label. The term "queer identified" is beginning to replace this acronym.


Male-to-female (MTF): A person born or assigned at birth as biologically male, who self-identifies as female and who takes the sex, gender, and identity of a female through dress, mannerisms, behaviors, hormone therapy, and/or surgery.


An out gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered person has already revealed his or her sexual orientation and lives “openly”.


Disclosing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others without permission (i.e. “He was outed at work”.)


Someone who is attracted to other people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Pansexual can also refer to an organization, event, or group. In this situation, the pansexual is defined as meaning open or welcome to all genders and not referencing one's sexual orientation or gender.

Partner or Significant Other

Terms most appropriate to use when referring to a LGBTQ’s spousal equivalent. Individuals may also use “girlfriend/boyfriend,” “lover,” “roommate,” “life partner,” “wife/husband,” or other terms when referring to their partners.


Transgender/intersex people dressing in public as their desired gendered. No deception or attempt to "fool" other people is implied as they dress, talk, or style their hair as the gender they truly feel they are.

Pink Triangle, The

During World War II, the Nazis interred gay men and lesbians as well as Jewish people, gypsies and others. Hitler revised Paragraph 175, a clause in German law prohibiting homosexual relations, to include same-sex thoughts, kissing, embracing, and gay sexual acts. In the concentration camps, each group was forced to wear an insignia to mark them as a member of a particular group–the pink triangle for gay men. Some have taken this very powerful reminder and incentive for change and have taken this symbol of discrimination and oppression into use. Since the 1940s, the pink triangle has become one of the most recognizable and powerful symbols for gay people and the oppression they have faced throughout Western history. The pink triangle was a commonly used insignia throughout the early gay liberation movements.


Once a derogatory term, the word “queer” has been re-appropriated by the LGBTQ community, and is used as an umbrella term for all sexual minorities.


People who don't necessarily fit into the major categories of gay, lesbian, or bisexual, may say that they are queer-identified. Many people who are categorized by others as being bisexual consider themselves queer-identified. And also gay men and lesbians who don't want to be labeled exclusively as gay/lesbian use the word queer. Pretty much anyone who is not straight in the typical sense may choose to say that they are queer-identified or simply call themselves queer.


Synonym for ally.


Feeling uncomfortable with or unwilling or unable to self-categorize within traditional labels such as gay, straight, male, female, etc.

Rainbow Flag, The

A recognized symbol of the LGBTQ community. Use of the rainbow flag began in the 1970s primarily on the West Coast, where it could be seen waving in the wind during Gay Pride marches. Today, it is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of LGBTQ pride.

Safe Space

A judgment-free space for all students.

Sexual Identity

The biological sex of the person, as in male or female.

Sexual Orientation

Emotional, physical, and/or sexual attraction to others; the direction of one’s attention i.e. one’s tendency to be primarily attracted to the same sex (lesbian or gay), other sex (heterosexual), both sexes (bisexual), neither sex (asexual), or any sex (pansexual).

Stonewall & Pride Celebrations

On June 28, 1969, a routine raid on the Stonewall Bar on Christopher Street in New York City turned into a riot when patrons resisted. The patrons barricaded themselves in the bar. The riot escalated until reinforcements arrived. The riots continued for several evenings. This rebellion, begun by drag queens and bar patrons, marked the beginning of the modern gay and lesbian movement. Each June, Pride marches, rallies and celebrations are held throughout the nation commemorating Stonewall.


Refers to persons whose gender identity, their self-perception as male or female, is different than their biological sex and who live as the other sex. Their internal sense of self does not match their biological status. Transgendered people may be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. 


The unrealistic or irrational fear or hatred of crossdressers, transsexuals, and transgendered.  Like all prejudices, it is based on negative stereotypes and misconceptions.


Transgender persons who opt to have their bodies surgically and hormonally reconstructed to match their gender identity.


An individual who dresses according to their gender identity.


An aboriginal term used to describe people who embody both the male and female spirit. This concept is used by some native people to represent gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals.


neutral-gender he or she; associated with "hir" for his or her. 

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