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Learn about the LGBTQIA+ Community and how to advocate for individuals that feel marginalized.  If you feel that any of this information is wrong or outdated, please reach out to us and we will update it as needed.

Disclaimer : The National Association of College and University Residence Halls, Inc. (NACURH) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are a non-partisan organization. Therefore, while CAACURH (The Central Atlantic Affiliate of NACURH) may provide resources, we will make an effort to not publish anything explicitly partisan on our website or social media accounts. We encourage our members to express themselves politically and to stand against injustice and inequality.

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LGBTQIA+ Basics

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LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. It can also be seen as LGBT and LGBTQIA+. The LGBTQ community is an umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as cisgender or heterosexual. In essence, it is a term used to describe anyone who does not identify as 'straight', or anyone whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth.

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Sexuality

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Sexuality is a person's inherent and enduring emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to another person. A person's sexuality is based on the gender and/or gender identity they are emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to. Sexuality exists on a spectrum, with each individual falling somewhere on that spectrum.

 

Sexual orientation and sexuality are interchangeable. Identity labels refer to the labels used to describe a person's sexuality. Commonly used ones are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Straight, or Asexual. Click here to learn more.

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Gender

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Gender is the characteristics, feelings, and attitudes that society associates with perceived biological sex. This includes social and societal norms, roles, and characteristics assigned to a person's biological sex. Gender at its core is a social construct and social identity. Biological sex is often assigned at birth by a medical professional assigns to a person when they are born based on their external anatomy. Biological sex exists as male, female, and intersex. Gender and biological sex are not the same things, although they are often referred to as such.

 

Gender Identity refers to a person's internal understanding of their own gender. Gender and conflict in a person's gender identity play a strong role in transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals.

An LGBTQ Ally is a person who is actively supporting the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ allies can be heterosexual and/or cisgender, and often support LGBTQ civil rights, transgender equality, and are often against societal discrimination against LGBTQ people. Anyone can be an LGBTQ ally, you do not even need to know an LGBTQ person personally.

 

 Allyship takes many different forms, from supporting the LGBTQ people you know, to being an activist for LGBTQ acceptance, equity and equality. No matter how an LGBTQ ally shows their support, knowledgeability about the LGBTQ community is important for all allies.

LGBTQIA+ Allies

The rainbow flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and queer pride and LGBT social movements. Also known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag, the colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.

Below you'll find a few of the MANY flags that are represented throughout the LGBT community.  Click "Pride Flags" to be transported to University of Northern Colorado's page to learn more about pride flags.

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Sexuality

A person's inherent and enduring emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to another person is referred to as sexuality. The gender and/or gender identity to which a person is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted determines their sexuality. Each person's sexuality is on a spectrum, and they all fall somewhere along it. Sexuality and sexual orientation are synonymous terms.

Identity Labels

The label a person uses to identify and describe their sexuality is referred to as an identity label. The following are some of the basic terms used to define a person's sexuality. The purpose of labels is to aid people in expressing their sexuality. Although few people exactly fit into these categories, they serve as a tool for better understanding one another. The bottom line is that only that person is aware of their sexuality. You are the only one who can label your sexual orientation.

Gender identification has no bearing on sexual orientation. Individuals who are transgender or non-binary can identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual. Although most transgender and non-binary people use the label that most closely matches their gender identification, this is not always the case. It is usually preferable to use a person's preferred label.

Gay

Gay, also known as homosexual, refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who identifies as male, who is physically, romantically, or emotionally attracted to other people who identify as male. Asexual, transgender, and non-binary individuals may choose to use gay to describe their sexuality, but it does not mean individuals in those groups are automatically gay.

Lesbian

Lesbian, also known as homosexual, refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who identifies as female, who is physically, romantically, or emotionally attracted to other people who identify as female. Asexual, Transgender, and non-binary individuals may choose to use lesbian to describe their sexuality, but it does not mean individuals in those groups are automatically lesbian.

Bisexual & Pansexual

Bisexuality and pansexuality are both characterized by physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to many genders. The terms bisexual and pansexual are sometimes, but not always, interchangeable. Some people identify as Bisexual, Pansexual, or a combination of the two. Individuals who identify as asexual, transgender, or non-binary may use the terms bisexual or pansexual to describe their sexuality, but this does not imply that they are bisexual or pansexual.

Bisexual - also known as bi, refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who is physical, romantic, and/or emotionally attracted to more than one gender or gender identity. 

 

Pansexual - refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who is physical, romantic, and/or emotionally attracted to a person regardless of gender or gender identity.

 

Asexual

Asexuality is an umbrella term for people who experience little to no sexual attraction to other people. Asexual does not mean a person is incapable of holding a relationship, nor does it mean a person is 'broken'. A person who identifies as asexual, also known as 'ace', still often date. Often, they are still romantically and emotionally attracted to other people. Additionally, asexual individuals often still identify with sexual orientation, in addition to their ace identity.

 

Ace Spectrum

Asexuality exists on a spectrum, with each individual's experience with being asexual being unique. Asexual identity refers to an individual's internal understanding of their asexuality. Commonly used labels to help describe an asexual's identity in terms of the asexual spectrum are: asexual, demisexual, and gray-asexual. 

 

Asexual: an individual who is generally not sexually attracted to other people.

 

Gray-Asexual: an individual who identifies somewhere between sexual and asexual. 

 

Demisexual: an individual who develops sexual attraction once they form a strong connection with a person.

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Coming Out

When an LGBTQ person decides to communicate their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, this is known as coming out. Coming out can be a challenging affair. For any LGBTQ individual, it can be frightening, stressful, and upsetting. The good news is that each LGBTQ person can choose who they come out to, when they come out, and how they come out. There is no right or wrong way to exit. Each person is unique, and they move at their own rate.

Being out in public about your sexual orientation exposes you to criticism, responses, and opinions about your identity. You may feel alone, ashamed, and even afraid. Coming out, on the other hand, may be empowering and liberating. Furthermore, during the last decade, people's perceptions toward LGBTQ persons have thankfully shifted.

While Cass' model was created with sexuality in mind, it's also a solid template for how a person's gender identity is developed. Individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth go through a similar process of identity formation. Transgender identity development is the process of reconciling an individual's identity with the physical, social, and emotional repercussions of transitioning for transgender people. Transitioning is a tough and frightening process for transgender persons.

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LGBTQ Identity Development

When an LGBTQ person decides to communicate their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, this is known as coming out. Coming out can be a challenging affair. For any LGBTQ individual, it can be frightening, stressful, and upsetting. The good news is that each LGBTQ person can choose who they come out to, when they come out, and how they come out. There is no right or wrong way to exit. Each person is unique, and they move at their own rate.

 

Being out in public about your sexual orientation exposes you to criticism, responses, and opinions about your identity. You may feel alone, ashamed, and even afraid. Coming out, on the other hand, may be empowering and liberating. Furthermore, during the last decade, people's perceptions toward LGBTQ persons have thankfully shifted.

Identity Confusion

This stage starts with the initial recognition of LGBTQ thoughts, feelings, and/or attractions. Some people choose to accept their feelings, while others choose to deny, repress, or even reject their feelings, thoughts, and inclinations.

It's critical that everyone realizes that these ideas and sentiments are completely normal. A person's sexual orientation and/or gender identity cannot be changed, and repression might lead to problems later in life.

Identity Comparison

Acceptance of the potential of being LGBTQ is the first step in this stage. Individuals in this stage consider the ramifications of having an LGBTQ identity on a larger scale. Individuals may experience feelings of loneliness, sadness, and self-doubt.

This stage is characterized by a search for one's own identity. It also entails acknowledging society's perspective on LGBTQ people and their definitions of sexuality and gender identity. It's critical for people to realize that what they're going through is typical.

Identity Tolerance

This stage is marked with the acknowledgment that they are likely LGBTQ and likely not alone. Often, this is the stage where LGBTQ people are most likely to start to engage with the LGBTQ culture and more likely to seek support.

Identity Acceptance

This stage is marked by a positive view of their LGBTQ identity. Contact with the LGBTQ community and other LGBTQ individuals increases. This is when an individual is most likely to seek out social support, and it is critical that they be provided with positive social support.

Identity Pride

This stage is marked by a sense of pride for an individual's LGBTQ identity. This stage is often when an LGBTQ individual will come out to close friends and family members, followed by an expression of one's LGBTQ identity in public. It should be noted that this does not mean a person needs to come out in this stage. Each LGBTQ person has the choice of who, when, and how they come out.

Identity Synthesis

This is the last stage of the process. It is defined by an individual's LGBTQ identity becoming a part of their overall sense of self. Individuals feel free to be themselves in both public and private settings.

Gender

Gender refers to the traits, feelings, and attitudes that society correlates with biological sex. Social and societal conventions, duties, and qualities associated with a person's biological sex are all included. Gender is a social construct and a social identity at its heart. A medical expert frequently assigns biological sex to a person after they are born based on their external anatomy. Male, female, and intersex biological sex exist. Gender and biological sex are not the same thing, despite the fact that they are frequently confused.

Gender in Society: Gender Identity, Attribution, and Expression

The internal understanding of a person's gender is referred to as gender identity. Each person's connection with their gender is unique, and they may or may not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. Non-binary and genderqueer are concepts used to describe people who do not identify as solely male or female. Transgender is a term used to describe people whose sex assigned at birth does not correspond to their gender identity.

 

Gender attribution refers to the gender a person is assigned by society based on their perceived gender. From the clothes they are required to wear to the social norms they are expected to follow, a person's perception can have a huge impact. Individuals can choose to change how they express their gender to impact their gender attribution. This may imply transitioning for transgender people.

 

Gender expression refers to how a person exhibits their gender identity on the outside. This covers what a person wears, how they style their hair, and their level of physical activity. While there are societal pressures for people to express their gender in a certain way, gender expression is something that an individual can manage. Gender expression can be classified as a spectrum, with masculine and feminine traits on opposite ends and androgenous traits in the middle.

Transgender

The internal understanding of a person's own gender is referred to as gender identity. Transgender people's gender identity is incompatible with the sex they were assigned at birth. In order to align their gender with their gender identity, many transgender people will go through social, legal, and medical processes.

 

Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds to the sex assigned to them at birth. People who are transgender have a gender identification that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Many transgender people make gender transitions to match their gender identity with their gender expression.

Transphobia

The feeling of hatred or prejudice toward a trans person is known as transphobia. It encompasses a wide range of negative thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors directed at transgender people or the transgender community. These attitudes are frequently the result of ignorance or erroneous assumptions about transgender people.

Transitioning

The social, legal, and medical processes that transgender people go through in order to better align their body and gender expression with their gender identity are referred to as transitioning.

 

Transgender people can change their pronouns and names to better express their gender identification, which may include changing their names legally. Always use their preferred pronouns when addressing them, and never use a person's "dead name." A transgender person's dead name is the name they used before transitioning.

Nonbinary & Genderqueer

Non-binary and genderqueer are umbrella phrases for people whose gender identification isn't solely defined by being a man or a woman. A nonbinary person can identify as both a man and a woman, or as someone who falls anywhere in the middle of the gender spectrum. It's important to remember that just because someone identifies as non-binary doesn't indicate they're transgender. Nonetheless, a transgender person is not automatically non-binary.

The Gender Unicorn

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