Thank you for your interest in Pride Center of Vermont’s education program!
We appreciate your patience as our Education Team works to evaluate and update our training and workshop offerings so that we may best support our LGBTQ+ community and those who serve them. If you would like to keep up-to-date and be alerted when the updated program launches, please sign up for the email list below.
In the meantime, please reference the resources that we have provided below and if you have any additional questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our first featured resource comes from “Man Enough Podcast”, which features a conversation filled with wisdom, historical insight, and radical mercy with ALOK. ALOK (they/them) is an internationally acclaimed writer, performer, and public speaker. As a mixed-media artist their work explores themes of trauma, belonging, and the human condition. They are the author of Femme in Public (2017), Beyond the Gender Binary (2020), and Your Wound/My Garden (2021). In this interview ALOK talks openly about their story, their movement to de-gender fashion, and they challenge us to get to know who we are outside of who we have been told we should be.
LGBTQIA+ 101: The Basics
Terms & Definitions
Aromantic: A person who feels little-to-no romantic attraction or desire for others. It is also used as an umbrella term for all identities that experience little-to-no romantic attraction.
Asexual: A person who feels little-to-no sexual attraction or desire for others. It is also used as an umbrella term for all identities that experience little-to-no sexual attraction. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy.
Biphobia: Antagonism/discrimination against bisexual people based on negative stereotypes or irrational fear. This can come from lesbian, gay, and trans people as well. Biphobia can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, and/or violence.
Bisexual/Bi: A person who is attracted to two or more genders.
Cisgender: A person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth; gender assignment is connected to sex assignment at birth.
Gay: 1) A man who is romantically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other men. 2) The term may be used by any person to describe a same gender attraction (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), or as an umbrella term for all people who experience same gender attraction. For some in our community, this term can feel invalidating or undermining the full breadth and depth of attraction identities.
Gender Expression: The way a person presents themselves that may signify or suggest gender within their culture(s). Examples include: how a person styles their hair, their choice of clothing and accessories, the firmness or grace of the way they intend to speak, mannerisms, etc.
Gender Identity: A person’s sense of who they are in relation to gender; gender identity may or may not be aligned with a person’s sex assigned at birth. Gender identity focuses on how a person identifies themselves, not on how others may perceive them.
Gender Non-Conforming (GNC): 1) A person whose gender expression does not align with cultural expections of how they should present their gender identity. 2) A gender identity used by folks whose gender does not fit within traditional understandings of gender.
Gender Queer/Genderqueer: A spectrum of gender identities that do not conform to a specific gender expression. It can also be used to signify that a person does not identify as gender conforming.
Heterosexual/Straight: A person with a binary gender identity who is attracted to people of another binary gender identity. Some transgender people may identify as straight and they are still part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Homophobia: Antagonism/discrimination against people who identify or are perceived as being attracted to someone of the same gender. Homophobia can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, and/or violence.
Intersex: A person whose sexual anatomy and/or chromosomes fall outside of traditional markers of “female” and “male” sex assignment at birth.
Lesbian: A woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other women.
LGBTQ+: An acronym for non-heterosexual and cisgender identities that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning. Sometimes these letters will be rearranged as GLBTQ+, or have added letters such as LGBTQIA+ (I standing for intersex and A standing for asexual or aromantic). The “+” is to represent that there are many identities that do not fit within the LGBTQ+ acronym, but that may identify within LGBTQ+ experiences.
Non-Binary: A spectrum of gender identities that fall outside of the gender binary, i.e. that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Some non-binary people identify as transgender and some do not.
Queer: A more open and fluid identity that is sometimes used as an umbrella term for people who do not identify as straight/heterosexual. The term is also sometimes used in relation to gender to signify that a person does not identify as gender conforming. Historically this term was used as a slur, and is often still offensive especially to people who experienced this; some prefer that this term not be used in reference to them or around them given its history, while others feel empowered by it.
Questioning: Someone who is questioning their gender and/or sexual identity.
Pansexual: A person who experiences attraction irregardless of gender (e.g., ‘hearts not parts’).
Transgender: This term has many definitions. It is frequently used as an umbrella term to refer to all people whose gender does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. This can include trans women, trans men, folks who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, and more. It’s important to note that the gender following trans (e.g., trans man or trans woman) indicates how the person self-identifies and not the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transphobia: Antagonism/discrimination against transgender and/or gender non-conforming people. Like biphobia, transphobia can also exist among lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as well as among straight people. Transphobia can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred, and/or violence.
Two Spirit: “The term two spirit refers to another gender role believed to be common among most, if not all, first peoples of Turtle Island (North America), one that had a proper and accepted place within indigenous societies.This acceptance was rooted in the spiritual teachings that say all life is sacred and that the Creator must have a reason for making someone different.This gender role was not based in sexual activities or practices, but rather the sacredness that comes from being different.” (Two Spirit Society of Denver, 1998). While some Native folks have found the term a useful tool for intertribal organizing, not all Native cultures conceptualize gender this way, and most tribes use names in their own languages (NativeOut).
Please Note: It is very important to respect people’s desired self-identifications. An individual’s definition of their gender and/or sexuality may not match what we have detailed here, and that is perfectly okay. One should never question or assume another person’s identity based on that person’s appearance. It is always best to ask people how they identify (if you need to know), to ask what pronouns they use, and to respect their wishes and identities.
Try it out!
Click here to practice matching terms with definitions.
Click here to watch LGBTQAlphabet video on YouTube.
Words to Watch Out For: Common Mistakes
Gendered words aren’t in-and-of themselves a problem. In fact, gendered language can feel validating for many! However, it’s important that we use gender-inclusive language when we don’t know the gender identity of the person/people we are addressing. When we use gender-inclusive language, we create a welcoming and affirming environment with our language.
- Instead of ‘Welcome Ladies & Gentlemen / Boys & Girls’ use ‘Welcome Everyone, All, Folks, Y’all, People, Colleagues, Friends’
- Instead of referring to someone’s identity as a ‘choice / lifestyle / preference’, honor that person’s identity by using the term that they use to describe themselves.
- Instead of ‘Boyfriend / Girlfriend / Husband / Wife’ use ‘Partner, Significant other, Spouse, Lover’
- Instead of ‘(Grand)Mother / (Grand)Father’ use ‘Parents, Guardians, Caregivers, Grandparents, Adults in your life’
- Instead of ‘Niece / Nephew” use ‘Niblings’
- Instead of ‘Son / Daughter’ use ‘Child, Kiddo’
- Do not invalidate someone’s identity. When someone comes out to you, it is not your place to say that they are ‘actually straight / gay / lesbian / another gender’ instead you should honor that person’s identity by using the term that they use to describe themselves.
- You cannot ‘tell’ if someone is LGBTQIA+ or not, unless they share that information with you. What you are saying to someone when you say that you could ‘tell they were gay’ or ‘couldn’t tell that you were trans’ is that they either do / not conform to the stereotypes that you were taught about LGBTQIA+ people.
- Language is ever evolving and changing, but what is most important is to match the language that people use to describe themselves and believe people because we are all the experts of our own experiences.
Try it out!
Click here to practice using gender inclusive language using UN toolkit.
Click here to watch ‘Why inclusive language is so important!’ on YouTube.
|Her||Him||Them||Jamie||Give ____ the flowers.|
|Her||His||Their||Jamie’s||Is that ____ coat?|
|Hers||His||Theirs||Jamie’s||The class is ________.|
|Herself||Himself||Themselves||Jamie will do it _______.|
- What is a pronoun?
- A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (he/she/they/etc.) specifically refer to people that you are talking about.
- How do I know what pronouns to use for someone?
- Ask them! You cannot know what pronouns to use for someone unless they tell you. The best way to ask is to say, “what pronouns do you use?” or “what pronouns should I use for you?” It is not offensive to ask, and allows for better communication.
- You can also model sharing your pronouns when meeting a new person by saying, “Hi, my name is [Name] and I use she/her pronouns. How about you?” The person may not share their pronouns with you right away, but what you have done is signaled that you are aware that people may use pronouns that you wouldn’t assume for them and that you are a safe person to disclose your pronouns to.
- What if I make a mistake?
- We are all human, which means we are all going to make mistakes in our lives; messing up pronouns is one of them.
- The best thing to do if you use the wrong pronoun for someone is to correct yourself in the moment or apologize right away, like “Sorry, I meant (insert pronoun)”. If someone corrects you, the best thing to do is to thank them for letting you know and move on.
- If you realize your mistake after the fact, apologize in private and move on; or be more intentional in the future to use the correct pronoun for that person.
- A lot of the time it can be tempting to go on and on about how bad you feel that you messed up or how hard it is for you to get it right. Please don’t! It is inappropriate and makes the person who was misgendered feel awkward and responsible for comforting you, which is absolutely not their job.
- What if someone else is using the wrong pronouns for someone?
- In most cases, it is appropriate to gently correct them without further embarrassing the individual who has been misgendered. This means saying something like “[Name] uses the pronoun she,” and then moving on. If the other person is consistently using the wrong pronouns for someone, do not ignore it! It is important to correct them and prevent further harm from happening
- It may be appropriate to approach the person being misgendered and say something like “I noticed that you were getting referred to with the wrong pronoun earlier, and I know that that can be really hurtful. Would you be okay with me taking them aside and reminding them about your pronouns?” Follow up if necessary, but take your cues from the comfort level of the person being misgendered. Your actions will be greatly appreciated.
- Why is it important to respect and honor people’s pronouns?
- You can’t always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity.
- When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric (often all of the above.)
- It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.
Try it out!
Click here to practice using they/them/theirs and other pronouns in various sentences.
Click here to watch ‘Pronouns’ video on YouTube.
How to Support LGBTQ+ People
It’s critical to be culturally aware of LGBTQIA+ specific differences to provide sensitive and effective services.
- Listen well and be present for each person.
- Meet people where they are and try to see them the way they see themselves.
- Avoid making assumptions about someone’s gender or sexuality.
- Use gender-neutral language when you don’t know their or their partner’s gender.
- Ask people their name and pronouns. Use these, even when you’re not in their presence (as long as they’re out to others). Correct people who misgender others.
- Reflect the language used by the individual you’re speaking with.
- If you mess up: apologize and then move on.
- Know Why/Tell Why. If there’s information you need: tell the person why you need it. Avoid unnecessary questions.
- Avoid back-handed compliments and “helpful” tips; generally, don’t offer advice unless someone asks for it, and sometimes the best advice is a referral to someone who may be able to offer more in-depth support.
- Don’t show surprise, dismay, concern, etc. when you find out a person is LGBTQ+. Be careful what messages your body language is communicating.
- Challenge harmful jokes and remarks.
- Assess each individual’s unique needs; think creatively to find workable solutions.
- Model acceptance for others. Don’t expect everyone to conform to societal norms around gender or sexual orientation.
- Empower individuals with respect, compassion, information and choices.
- Build investment in the community; make real connections with LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Have visible Pride and Ally symbols (flags, pins, ribbons, and/or signs with a rainbow, “ally”, “celebrate diversity”, “safe space”).
- Practice! Practice asking someone’s name and pronouns with your friends/coworkers/family, and using gender neutral language.
- Consider your own values and beliefs. Things to reflect upon: What are your personal views about LGBTQ+ people? What were you taught growing up? How might this impact your work with LGBTQ+ individuals?
- Educate yourself by using the appropriate resources (internet, library, YouTube, or calling places like the Pride Center for technical assistance); avoid putting pressure on LGBTQ+ people to educate you, especially if they are your client.
Try it out!
Click here to access an affirming workplace checklist from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
Want to learn more? Below are some of our favorite resources to suggest for further learning!
What to Read:
- Pride Center: Definitions Sheet
- TSER Gender Unicorn
- How Trauma-Informed Are We, Really? By Paul Gorski
- Pride Center: Impact of Pronouns
- Supporting the Transgender People in Your Life: National Center for Transgender Equality
- The World Professional Association of Transgender Health: Standards of Care (v7)
- The Pride Study Research
- 2018 VT Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Report: Department of Health
- 2019 VT Youth Risk Behavior Survey Statewide Results: Department of Health
What to Watch
- Pronouns | Trans | One Word: YouTube Video
- Acting Gay | Gay Men | One Word: YouTube Video
- I’m Gay – Eugene Lee Yang: YouTube Video
- LGBTQAlphabet: YouTube Video
- Disclosure: Netflix Documentary
- AIDS | Gay Men | One Word: YouTube Video
- Passing | Trans | One Word: YouTube Video
- Penis & Vagina | Trans | One Word: YouTube Video