Common VocabularyRegarding Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity (Download pdf)
Ally: A person who works against oppression by supporting those in an oppressed group. Anyone can be an ally.
A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to people of all genders.
Discrimination: Denying equal treatment to individuals or groups of people.
Gay (K-2): A term used to describe a person who has romantic feelings for another person of the same gender.
Gay (3-12):A term that can apply to either men or women who are physically and emotionally attracted to persons of the same gender. However, it is usually used to describe men (e.g., "gay men").
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Gender: Gender is a person's internal sense of themselves as being man, woman, or transgender. Biological sex and gender are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. People whose sex and gender differ are known as "Transgender".
Gender Identity: Refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being either male, female, boy or girl or another gender. Everyone has a gender identity.
Gender Role: Cultural norms of how males and females are “supposed” to act. These expectations are often stereotypical, such as “Boys like blue and girls like pink.”
Heterosexism: Prejudice based on sexual orientation. It is the belief that heterosexuality is superior, or that everyone is or should be heterosexual.
Heterosexual (K-2): A person who has romantic feelings for people of another gender.
Heterosexual (3-12):A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to people of another gender. It can be used instead of the word "straight".
Homophobia: A fear or hatred of homosexuality, especially in others, but also in oneself.
Homosexual: A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to people of their own sex or gender. This includes gay and lesbian people.
Lesbian (K-2): A woman who has romantic feelings for another woman.
Lesbian (3-12): A term used to describe a woman who is emotionally and physically attracted to another woman.
Preferred Gender Pronouns: The pronouns someone wants others to use when talking aboutthem, such as she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, or something else.
Prejudice: A belief, usually negative, about all people within a given group (e.g., "people from California are all weird").
Stereotype: A generalization, usually negative, about persons based on some characteristic. The generalization is then attributed to everyone who may fit into the group.
Transphobia: Prejudice against transgender people.
Transgender (K-5): When someone of one gender feels like they are another gender. For example, when a boy thinks and feels like he is a girl inside.
Transgender (6-12): People whose gender identity differsfrom physical body they were born with. It is a gender identity. Transgender people also have a sexual orientation (straight, gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, asexual or questioning).
Queer: Originally used as an insult for being different, a movement emerged in the 80’s to reclaim the word as positive. It is currently being used by many, but not all, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to describe their pride in being different.
Questioning (6-12): A person who is exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Questioning is often, but not necessarily accompanied by confusion