GLOSSARY OF TERMS: This glossary includes some of the

This glossary includes some of the terminology that may be helpful in your understanding of sexual
orientation and gender identity. It also includes some of the terms that describe the problems that
arise from discrimination because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is not an
exhaustive list and there are links and references to documents or sites offering more information.
Please remember when talking to students, you should always be using age and grade level
appropriate language and examples.
Having both male and female characteristics. Another term used is transgender and pan gendered.
Bisexual: an individual who is emotionally/romantically and physically attracted to persons of
either sex.
Coming Out:
A lifelong process where queer people become aware of acknowledge, accept, appreciate, and
inform others of their sexual or gender identity. Coming out can involve self-knowledge, or sharing
this information with friends, family, employers and their children’s teachers and caregivers.
Gay: a person who is emotionally/romantically and physically attracted to persons of the same sex.
Gay usually refers to males, but it is also used to include females. Gay can be used
interchangeably with homosexual. Gay is most often the term preferred by the gay and lesbian
community when referring to homosexual males.
Heteronormativity is a term that is used to describe the marginalization of non heterosexual
lifestyles and the view that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation.
Heterosexism: the societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that assume
that heterosexuality is the natural, normal, and acceptable sexual
Heterosexual: a person who is emotionally/romantically and physically attracted to persons of the
opposite sex.
Heterosexual Privilege: the benefits, advantages, and entitlements that society bestows on
people who identify as heterosexual.
Homophobia: fear of, negative bias toward, or hatred of lesbians and gay men. It is usually
manifested through discrimination, prejudice, bullying, and/or acts of violence.
Internalized homophobia:
The negative beliefs and attitudes about same sex orientation that lesbian, gay and bisexual
people inevitably absorb through growing up in a heterosexual culture.
General term for a range of physiological conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or
sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definition of female and male. For example, a person
may be born with external female genitalia but internal male reproductive anatomy.
Lesbian: a female who is emotionally/romantically and physically attracted to other females.
Lesbian can be used interchangeably with homosexual and gay when referring to females. Lesbian
is usually the term preferred by the gay and lesbian community when referring to gay/homosexual
An acronym used to describe individuals who may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, queer and questioning
(From Bill 13, “Accepting Schools Act”, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2012)
Lifestyle: a term used to describe the way individuals organize and experience their lives (e.g.
some people like to camp and canoe; others may prefer to watch movies and knit). This term is
often used incorrectly to denote a person’s lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity. People from all sexual
orientations organize and live different lifestyles.
A person who is engaged in the process of questioning his or her sexual orientation or gender
Sexual Orientation: This term is about whether we fall in love with a man, a woman, or both.
Everyone has a sexual orientation. A person’s sexual orientation may be homosexual, bisexual, or
Transgender: a person who has conformed or is in the process of conforming their physical
appearance to their gender identity. The person’s gender identity does not match their original
anatomical sex.
People who strongly desire their bodies to match or modify the gender they feel truly are.
Transsexuals are people who may have made or are making a transition from one gender to the
Two Spirited:
The terms usually implies a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body and was
coined by contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Aboriginals to describe
themselves and the traditional roles they are reclaiming.
Historically, the term "queer" was a derogatory term used to describe lesbians and gay men. In the
1980’s, within the lesbian and gay civil rights struggle, a movement emerged to reclaim the word
and use it in a positive way. Today, “queer” is frequently used as an umbrella term to refer to an
array of identities that challenge heterosexist constructions of sexuality and gender. It is argued
that the use of “queer” as a unifying category remedies the failure of the widely-known “LGBTQ”
acronym to acknowledge the myriad of sexual and gender identities found in Western societies
including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, two spirited and “questioning” people. With
this in mind, we have chosen to use the term “queer” in place of “LGBTQ” in an effort to recognize
all expressions of gender and sexuality.
These are common definitions found in several resources. The source of these definitions is Dhawan, Anita. Imagine a World That Is Free from Fear: a Kindergarten to Grade Eight Resource
Addressing Issues Relating to Homophobia and Heterosexism. Toronto, Ont.: Elementary
Teachers' Federation of Ontario, 2004. Print and
Buliding Bridges: Queer Familes in Early Childhood Education . Atkinson Ctr for Society and Child
Development (2009) pp 8 and 9.
Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide
Gay and Lesbian Educators of B.C. -
Egale Canada –
My GSA - (Resource for Students, Educators, Parents)
Youth Beyond Barriers -
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) –
PFLAG (Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays) –
Day of Pink –
Ministry of Education:
In Realizing the Promise of Diversity…Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (2009),
The Ministry of Education recognizes that sexual orientation and gender identity (among other
things) are part of the human diversity. It goes on to affirm that inclusive education is based upon
the acceptance and inclusion of all students and students must see themselves reflected in their
curriculum. For more information -
Ontario Human Rights Code
The Code protects the rights of individuals and ensures that people, in Ontario, can live, work and
play without discrimination because of 15 protected grounds (identities) including sexual orientation
and sex. For more information –
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact:
Mary Samuel: - [email protected], - Staff Development Officer: Equity, Curriculum and
Instruction Support Services
Your Climate for Learning and Working Team:
Climate for Learning and Working Coordinator: Kelly Krug: [email protected]
Climate for Learning and Working Resource Teacher (North Field Office Contact): - Raquel
Walker: [email protected]
Climate for Learning and Working Resource Teacher (Mississauga Field Office Contact): Nancy Annibale: [email protected]