Glossary

Lauren: Are you gay, Sir?
Teacher: No, Lauren.
Lauren: Are you homophobic then, Sir?
Teacher: You don't even know what 'homophobic' means!
Lauren: I don't need to, Sir. I'm not gay.
Catherine Tate Show, BBC2

Coming out is the term which describes the act of communicating with another person about one's sexuality.

Genderqueer is a term used by some young people who do not feel that they can easily slot into either gender category.

Heterosexism refers to the way in which society is built on the assumption that everyone should be heterosexual.

Heteronormative refers to cultures where heterosexuality is encouraged and other identities are ignored or responded to negatively. A heteronormative society disregards the reality of sexual diversity. The educational and social needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and others, and the needs of their families, are ignored.

Homophobia This refers, not only to the nastiness and hatred that is sometimes directed towards lesbian and gay people, but also the act of standing by and doing nothing in the face of obvious discrimination. (Also biphobia and transphobia).

Intersex An intersex person is born with anatomy that does not conform with contemporary views of what constitutes a male' or a 'female' body. This mean that the gender of that person should not be assigned permanently.

LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) and LGBT (lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender) are commonly-used abbreviations. 'GLBT' is the US version.

Queer is a word which was once intended to be offensive, but it has been re-adopted by the gay community. 'Queer politics' emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s and is commonly used in academic fields. It was a reaction to separate groups and narrow identities, and might be regarded as a more inclusive title, being an umbrella term which can cover lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, as well as some heterosexual people.

Questioning young people are uncertain of their sexuality and still thinking about it.

Self-realisation is the process all lesbians and gays experience, as they come to understand that their sexuality is different from most. This may happen a long time (usually years) before a person starts to communicate with others about their sexuality.

Transgender is an umbrella term which covers a range of situations where there is a mismatch between assigned gender and gender expression. Transgender people may identify as heterosexual or LGB.

Transsexual people have the physical characteristics of one sex, but feel that they belong to the other.

Transvestites have no desire to change their gender but feel more comfortable in certain circumstances when they cross-dress.