Sexual Orientation

The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s physical, romantic and/ or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual (straight) orientations. Use the term sexual orientation rather than the term "sexual preference," which suggests that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is voluntary and therefore "curable.”

  • Gay
    The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay mangay people). Sometimes lesbian (n. or adj.) is the preferred term for women. Use the term gay rather than identifying them as "homosexuals" which is an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many.
  • Lesbian
    A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Use the term lesbian rather than identifying them as "homosexuals" which is an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many.
  • Bisexual, Bi
    A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual. Do not use a hyphen in the word "bisexual," and only capitalize bisexual when used at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Queer
    An adjective used by some people, particularly younger people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbiangay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don't apply to them. Some people may use queer, or more commonly genderqueer, to describe their gender identity and/or gender expression (see non-binary and/or genderqueer below). Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBT people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBT community. When Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it typically means queer and, less often, questioning.
  • Heterosexual
    An adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Also straight.

Gender Identity

One's innermost concept of self as 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 or different from their sex assigned at birth. Taken from

Gender Expression

External appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.  Taken from

  • Transgender
    An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. Note: Use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Some transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.
  • Gender Fluid Gender fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of man and woman. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days. - See more at:
  • Gender non-conforming
    A gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man) 2 a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. Often abbreviated as “GNC.” - See more at:
  • Genderqueer
    A gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).   may combine aspects man and woman and other identities (bigender, pangender); not having a gender or identifying with a gender (genderless, agender); moving between genders (genderfluid); third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation. - See more at:
  • Cisgender
    A person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.” - See more at:


When addressing members of the LGBTQ+ community it is important to use the appropriate pronouns.  What is a pronoun you ask?  Well, these are words or terms used to refer to a person rather than their name.  Below is an overview of pronouns generally but a good rule of thumb is if you don’t know the pronoun someone uses, just ask!  There are also links below to many resources to help navigate the terms, usage and conversations. 

  •  He / She: gender pronouns.  He is used by those who identify as male; she is used by those who identify as female.
  • They / Ze / Ey: Gender neutral pronouns.  Usually used by those who identify as genderqueer or non-binary
  • Misgendering: using the wrong pronoun for a person. Using the correct pronoun for a person honors and validates their identity.  It’s a way to show acceptance and support. 
  • We have found the following pages to provide excellent information on pronouns and their use: