LGBTQIA Faculty/Staff Resources


Providing a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for one another, especially Queer individuals is essential to building safe spaces and offering allyship to those in the Queer community. Being informed, continually educating one's self, and making conscious choices about including LGBTQIA+ material in classrooms is an excellent way to create these inclusive environments.

Likewise, it's important to recognize performative acts or tokenizing LGBTQIA+ identifying students. The goal is to learn more and be open-minded, but not construct ideals and insets that can be just as confining. The Queer community is a vast and diverse one that should be recognized and added to the canon, not for simply their gender identity, but for their successful contributions to every field that often get overlooked or mis-credited.

The information below addresses some common questions that only begin the journey to better understanding gender diverse students (this is inclusive of transgender, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, and queer) students, and how to support them. Beginning here and then continuing to ask questions, visit websites, attend events, and find resources are some ways individuals can continue working towards creating inclusive environments within and beyond the UNCW. 


What All the Letters Mean

What does it mean to be a Lesbian?

Lesbian - Refers to a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to other women. People who are lesbians need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction that helps determine orientation. (

What does Gay mean? 

Gay  - The adjective used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though many women use the term gay to describe themselves. People who are gay need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction and self-identification that determine orientation.(

What does it mean to be Bisexual? Is it like 50/50?

Bisexual -  Refers to an individual who has the capacity for attraction—sexually, romantically, emotionally, or otherwise—to people with the same, and to people with different, genders and/or gender identities as themselves. People who identify as bisexual need not have had equal experience—or equal levels of attraction—with people across genders, nor any experience at all: it is attraction and self-identification that determine orientation. Sometimes referred to as bi or bi+. (

What does it mean to be Transgender? Are there any other terms I should know?

Transgender -Often shortened to trans. A term describing a person’s gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex at birth. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically to match their gender identity. This word is also used as an umbrella term to describe groups of people who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression—such groups include, but are not limited to, people who identify as transsexual, genderqueer, gender variant, gender diverse, and androgynous. See above for common acronyms and terms including female to male (or FTM), male to female (or MTF), assigned male at birth (or AMAB), assigned female at birth (or AFAB), genderqueer, and gender expansive. (

What does Queer mean? Is Queer a slur?

Queer - A term used by some people to describe themselves and/or their community. Reclaimed from its earlier negative use, the term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. Traditionally a negative or pejorative term for people who are gay, queer is still sometimes disliked within the LGBTQ+ community. Due to its varying meanings, this word should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as queer (i.e. “My cousin identifies as queer”). The Q can also stand for questioning, referring to those who are still exploring their own sexuality and/or gender. (

Doesn't the Q stand for Questioning, too? 
Sometimes, when the Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it can also mean Questioning. This term describes someone who is questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. (

What does Intersex mean?

Intersex - A variety of conditions that lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics are collectively referred to as intersex conditions. These conditions can involve abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes or sex-related hormones. Some examples include:

  • External genitals that cannot be easily classified as male or female.
  • Incomplete or unusual development of the internal reproductive organs.
  • Inconsistency between the external genitals and the internal reproductive organs.
  • Abnormalities of the sex chromosomes.
  • Abnormal development of the testes or ovaries.
  • Over- or underproduction of sex-related hormones.
  • Inability of the body to respond normally to sex-related hormones.

"Intersex" was originally a medical term that was later embraced by some intersex persons. Many experts and persons with intersex conditions have recently recommended adopting the term "disorders of sex development" (DSD). They feel that this term is more accurate and less stigmatizing than the term intersex. (

What does Asexual mean?

Asexual - A term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, and is different from celibacy, in that celibacy is the choice to refrain from engaging in sexual behaviors and does not comment on one’s sexual attractions. An asexual individual may choose to engage in sexual behaviors for various reasons even while not experiencing sexual attraction. Asexuality is an identity and sexual orientation; it is not a medical condition. Sexual attraction is not necessary for a person to be healthy. (
What does the “+” stand for in LGBTQ+? 
+ The “+” represents those who are part of the community, but for whom LGBTQ does not accurately capture or reflect their identity. (


*Note these definitions are general and do not align with all individuals' definitions of these terms. Be open-minded and cognizant of variation when hearing these terms.


Common Questions

What does it mean when someone says they’re “out”?

Generally describes people who openly self-identify as LGBTQ+ in their private, public, and/or professional lives. Some people who are transgender prefer to use the term disclose. Disclose is a word that some people use to describe the act or process of revealing one’s transgender or gender-expansive identity to another person in a specific instance. Some find the term offensive, implying the need to disclose something shameful, and prefer to use the term coming out, whereas others find coming out offensive, and prefer to use disclosure. Source:

What does it mean when someone says “make sure you’re not outing someone by sharing this information”?

This means The deliberate or accidental sharing of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression without their explicit consent. Outing is considered disrespectful and a potentially dangerous act for LGBTQ+ individuals. Source:

What is LGBTQ+ Pride? 

LGBTQ Pride Month is commemorated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which LGBTQ Americans were commonly subjected. This uprising marked the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ Americans. Today, LGBTQ Pride Month celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, attracting millions of participants around the world. 


What is Heteronormativity?

Attitudes and behaviors that incorrectly assume gender is binary, ignoring genders besides women and men, and that people should and will align with conventional expectations of society for gender identity, gender expression, and sexual and romantic attraction. For example, someone assigned female at birth is expected to 1) have a body that is considered “female” by the dominant culture, 2) identify as a girl or woman, 3) act feminine and fulfill the roles associated with girls and/or women, and 4) be romantically and sexually attracted to men. Definition:

I’ve just always assumed that people are heterosexual, what does that mean? How do I actively work on that assumption? 

This is called Heterosexism, which is the assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual.  Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people while it gives advantages to heterosexual people.  It is often a subtle form of oppression, which reinforces realities of silence and erasure. Active intention can be used to break these assumptions, as well as allow people to express who they are and provide a safe space for them to do so. As an educator, it is extremely important to not place assumptions about or on students, which can lead to, but is not limited to, mental and bodily discomfort and decline. (



Note* there are many different sexualities and gender identities, and this page only offers an overview. It’s important, as an ally, to continually educate one's self and seek understanding and resources. It should not fall on the shoulders of the marginalized individuals to educate others on their identities and lived experiences. Likewise, be aware of the variety of lived experiences and the differences among those experiences. Acknowledging that each individual has their own experience and identity allows for the respect that is necessary in the academic sphere and all other situations. Additionally, please note that if someone takes the time to educate others on their marginalized experience, the encounter should be held in utmost esteem; it is often a laborious and taxing experience for the individual sharing.