Skip to main content

EG 5063 Building Classroom Communities: LGBTQ

This class includes discussion around ways students identify so that safer, more inclusive, equitable, and responsive classrooms can be built. Some resources for furthering that goal are contained here.

What Support Is

  • Keeping confidentiality--just because a student or their family member is out to you doesn’t mean they are out to others.
  • Respond to anti-LGBTQ language and bullying.
    • Address with the individual.
    • Address with class at large.
    • Directly talk about issues and why discriminatory language is harmful.
  • Use inclusive language in classes.
  • Be aware of resources to recommend.
  • Advocate for adoption of anti-LGBTQ bullying policy in school handbook.

Support is NOT

  • Unconditional agreement with student’s beliefs.
  • Telling a student how to handle/process this part of their identity.
  • Being the only person the student trusts/taking on more responsibility than appropriate.

This conversation is sometimes difficult because of:

  • lack of education/understanding
  • fear of asking questions
  • fear of a negative response

It’s okay to ask questions! Asking questions demonstrates investment in the conversation and the person you’re speaking with.

“What can I do to help?”

“Do you feel safe/is there any way I can help you feel safer?”

“What would you like me to know about you?”

“What does _________ mean to you?”

“What are your preferred pronouns?”

  • Ask, but don’t demand answers. Always give the student the option of not answering if they don’t feel comfortable.

Safe Space

What Support Means

  • Start discussions about creating safe spaces for LGBTQ students and their families at school.
  • Understand support as an outgrowth of the educator's mission: to care about students’ academic, physical and mental health and success.

LGBTQ students face additional hurdles to academic success and mental wellness compared to their heterosexual peers.

Staff who are sensitive to and supportive of the mental health and academic success of LGBTQ students and their families greatly increase their chances of academic success and personal well being.

In schools with supportive staff, 

  • LGBTQ students were half as likely to miss class
  • LGBTQ students had higher GPAs
  • LGBTQ students felt safer in their classes

...when compared to LGBTQ peers in schools without supportive staff. 

Kosciw JG, Greytak EA, Diaz EM, Bartkiewicz MJ. The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools. New York: Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network; 2010.



Sexual Orientation (Physical)

  • Gay: man that experiences attraction towards another man; also used as a “catch all” term for LGBTQ people.
  • Lesbian: woman that experiences attraction towards another woman.
  • Bisexual: experiences attraction to both men and women.
  • Pansexual: experiences attraction regardless of gender.
  • Asexual: experiences no sexual attraction to any gender.

Romantic Orientation (Emotional)

  • Aromantic: experiences no romantic attraction.
  • Biromantic: experiences romantic attraction towards both men and women.
  • Heteroromantic: experiences romantic attraction towards the opposite gender.
  • Homoromantic: experiences romantic attraction towards the same gender.
  • Panromantic: experiences romantic attraction regardless of gender.

Biological sex and gender identity are not the same thing!

  • Male
  • Female
  • Intersex: someone whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now considered outdated and derogatory.

American Psychological Association. Definition of terms: Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. 2011. Retrieved from

Gender Identity

Cisgender: gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align; e.g., man and male-assigned (sometimes shortened to “cis”).

Transgender: umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Genderqueer/Genderfluid: catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity (sometimes referred to as non-binary).

Heteronormativity: the assumption in society at large that all people are cis and straight. This mindset contributes towards microaggression and erasure of non-cis, non-straight identities, often making it difficult for LGBTQ individuals to be authentically themselves.

Queer: a catch-all term for members of the LGBTQ community. Formerly considered derogatory, it is gradually being reframed and reclaimed by LGBTQ people as a non-derogatory term. Generally, don’t use unless an individual uses it for themselves first. 

Overview of Sexual Attraction and Gender Identity

Sexual attraction (physical) is separate from romantic attraction (emotional). Sexual and romantic attraction, and gender identity, exist on a spectrum.

Sexual orientation and gender identity can fluctuate over a lifetime; however, this does not invalidate previous identifications nor does it mean that an individual can choose to change their orientation.