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LGBTQIA+ Communities and Allies


This guide is a starting point to becoming aware of and honor the LGBTQIA+  communities and allies. Use the tabs on the side for topics, including:

  • Getting Started -- includes key terms; glossaries
  • Identity and Expression
  • Activism and Advocacy
  • Healthcare and Wellbeing
  • Statistics

Georgia Tech also has great resources for discovering how you can be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Learn about allyship at GT Safe Space, allyship training for faculty, staff, postdocs, and grad students. Undergrads can get allyship training at Safe Space:Peer Education. Learn about supporting the transgender community at Trans 101. Sponsored by the GT LGBTQIA Resource Center. (Find out more about local and national LGBTQIA+ organizations here).

Introduction to LGBTQIA+ terminology

Learning more about the LGBTQIA+ community begins with learning some important terminology. Here is a video that introduces commonly-used terminologies, as explained by students at American University in Washington DC.

Key terms

The U.S. Department of Labor uses key terminology, adapted from the  National LGBTQ Task Force, LGBTQ+ Glossary of Terms

What is the difference between sex and gender? Sex (i.e., male, female, or intersex) is assigned at birth based on a combination of a baby's biological characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs, and is originally documented on a person's birth certificate. The World Health Organization defines gender as the "socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate" based on sex.

Bisexual: A person whose romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction is towards same and/or different genders.

Gay: A person whose romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction is towards their own gender, most commonly used for men. Men-loving-men (MLM) is a term with a similar meaning coined by communities of color.

Genderfluid: Refers to an identity under the nonbinary and transgender umbrellas. Genderfluid individuals have different gender identities at different times.

Intersex: Refers to a person who is born with sexual or reproductive anatomy that does not fit within the sex binary of male or female, encompassing a variety of sex expressions. 

Lesbian: A woman whose romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction is towards other women. Womenloving-women (WLW) is a term with a similar meaning coined by communities of color.

Pronouns: Terms used to substitute a person's name when they are being referred to in the third-person. Some common pronouns include he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/their(s). A person's gender should not be assumed based on their pronouns.

Queer: An umbrella term which embraces a variety of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits of those who are not among the exclusively heterosexual and monogamous majority. Although the term was once considered derogatory and offensive, the community has reclaimed the word and now uses it widely as a form of empowerment.

Transgender: A broad term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. "Trans" is shorthand for "transgender." Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective.

See also glossaries from other sources - guidance on using these terms may differ: