Understanding our community: LGBTQ+ (2023)

This post kicks off a series about understanding community. As volunteers, our hearts are in the right place and we get involved because we care and want to impact the world for the better. But we need to make sure that we are treating all people with dignity and respect—the people we’re serving, our fellow volunteers, and our nonprofit leaders. We will have a series of posts on this, starting with the LGBTQ+ community.

To create more inclusive nonprofits, it is important for all of us to be aware of the unique struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces so that we can be better people, and better volunteers. While racial equality is front and center right now, we know that viewing equality through an intersectional lens is key. That means that we cannot separate the experiences of marginalized communities (e.g., Black, trans, women, indigenous, etc.) because the forms of oppression for these communities are all linked and mutually dependent. And in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, we must remember that LGBTQ+ rights (and Pride) grew from the Stonewall riots in the ’60s. So, happy Pride month! Even though it looks a little different out there this June, we see you, we love you, we appreciate you.

So let’s start with the basics. What does LGBTQ+ even mean, and why are there so many letters?

(Video) LGBT 101: An introduction to the Queer community

L – Lesbian: Someone who identifies as a woman and is attracted only to other women.
G – Gay: Someone who identifies as a man and is attracted only to other men.
B – Bisexual: Someone who is attracted to more than one gender.
T – Transgender: Someone who identifies as a gender different than the one they were born with. (Note: this person may be pre- or post- surgery/hormone therapy, but please refrain from asking where they are in the process as this is deeply personal.)
Q – Queer/Questioning: Queer can be an umbrella term for the LGBT community, but the Q can also stand for Questioning for those still in the process of exploring their identity.
+ : Includes the many other aspects of the gender/sexuality scale. This could include intersex (born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t fit male or female), asexual (who doesn’t experience sexual attraction), nonbinary (doesn’t adhere to gender norms and may prefer different pronouns than she/he), pansexual (attraction to people not based on their sex or gender identity), and others.

It’s important to understand that gender and sexuality are a spectrum. Maybe you are 100% straight, but most people aren’t. If you’re curious to see where you fall, you can use the Kinsey Scale test to see.

LGBTQ+ rights are human rights

Soooo, you may be thinking, but why is this important? Why is this a humanitarian issue? Why should I care?

Because no matter how you identify or who you love, you are a person who deserves respect, and because:

(Video) LGBTQ+: Understanding The Basics

  • Nearly 1 in 20 Americans (~5%) identify as LGBTQ+, including over 8% of millennials. (Note: the 2020 census counted this for the first time ever, so we will likely have updated and more accurate numbers soon!)
  • LGBTQ+ youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they’ve been physically assaulted.
  • Queer teens who experience rejection from their families are 8.4x more likely than average to report having attempted suicide, and are nearly 6x more likely to report high levels of depression than queer teens with low to no family rejection.
  • Between 25-50% of homeless youth identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and were kicked out of their homes due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 17% of LGBTQ+ adults reported periods in their life where they didn’t have housing—more than double the general population.

What to know about the LGBTQ+ community when volunteering

Understanding pronouns

People may introduce themselves to you and include their pronouns, or the nonprofit coordinator may ask everyone’s pronouns. Why is this important? To most cisgender (identify with the same gender on your birth certificate) people, this may not seem important because others probably get your pronouns right automatically. For people in the LGBTQ+ community, pronouns are an important form of identity.

If someone tells me their pronouns or asks for mine, what does it mean?

She/Her/Hers: Feminine pronouns for those who identify as women

He/Him/His: Masculine pronouns for those who identify as men

They/Them/Theirs: Non-gendered pronouns for those who identify as nonbinary

(Video) Wanda Sykes Takes Us Through the History of LGBTQ+ — Now You Know

What is “misgendering” and why does it matter?

A person is misgendered if they are referred to as the wrong gender, or with the wrong gender pronouns. Say you are a woman, and someone calls you “him”—that would be misgendering. To those of us who have never struggled with our gender identity, this can seem unimportant, but to people who have undergone a lot of negativity or violence due to the gender they identify with, this can be very hurtful.

If you misgender someone and they correct you, it’s okay! We all make mistakes. Just apologize, and figure out a way to not make that mistake again. You can try repeating their pronouns to yourself throughout the conversation to make it stick in your brain.

Using the right pronouns is a really impactful and easy way to make LGBTQ+ people feel understood, seen, and respected. Who wouldn’t want that from the people we interact with?

Don’t pry—take your curiosity to the internet

Please do not ask LGBTQ+ people about their sex lives or genitalia. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t ask the same question to a straight person you just met, don’t ask it to your newfound gay/lesbian/trans friend. If you are curious about these things, consult the internet. We’ve got a lot of resources compiled at the bottom of this article, you can start there. Plus, it is not an LGBTQ+ person’s job to educate you—don’t put the burden on them, as these conversations can be emotionally exhausting and you can find out anything you want to know on good ol’ Google.

(Video) Understanding and enhancing the lives of LGBTQ+ communities

LGBTQ+ community representation and inclusivity in nonprofit organizations

This is for nonprofit leaders and seasoned volunteers. How can we be making our spaces more inclusive?


  • Create a zero tolerance policy for disrespectful behavior towards LGBTQ+ people that interact with your organization (as clients or volunteers)
  • Give gender-neutral assignments whenever possible (no “boys line up on one side, girls line up on the other”)
  • Avoid gendered phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” when “friends,” “folks,” or “people” will work just as well.
  • Listen and learn without judgement, and be willing to help however you can.
  • Be open—remember that everyone is a human being that deserves love and respect.


  • Don’t assume you know who is queer and who isn’t. Research has shown that in a group of 20-30 students, there are likely a few people who are gay or lesbian. Most nonprofit leaders, educators, and business leaders don’t have this mindset and automatically assume that everyone in a group is heterosexual. However, by making this assumption, people treat LGBTQ+ folks as if they are invisible. Just by reframing your mindset, there is a positive shift towards inclusivity.
  • Don’t make generalizations or treat LGBTQ+ people as stereotypes, or representatives of everyone else who shares their sexual orientation or gender identity. People are all unique, and this is only one part (albeit a big one) of their lived experience.

Resources for the LGBTQ+ community

For parents:

For questioning or coming out:

For staying safe:

Nonprofits to support:

Queer voices to tune in to:

Ted talks we love:

P.S. If you have more resources you think we should include, or think that we can do better in how we talk about inclusivity as it pertains to our LGBTQ+ friends, please reach out to Lindsey: lindsey@pointapp.org

(Video) Queer & Present Danger – Understanding the disparate impacts of disasters on LGBTQ+ communities.

And if you know of an LGBTQ+ led nonprofit that could use free tech, invite them to POINT!

  1. Don’t make assumptions about people’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Speak out against homophobia, transphobia and anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination.
  3. Speak out against the use of antigay slurs.
  4. Be supportive of anyone who chooses to come out.
  5. Attend LGBTQ events.

What are the problems faced by LGBT community? ›

“Around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBT) people face discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives. They are denied access to employment, education, and health care. They are targeted for attacks solely because of their gender expression or perceived sexual orientation.

What does Pride community mean? ›

The word ‘pride’ is an integral cultural concept within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) community, representing solidarity, collectivity, and identity as well as resistance to discrimination and violence.

Why is it important to support LGBTQ? ›

Some benefits of being an ally to LGBTQ people:

Open yourself up to the possibility of close relationships with a wider range of people. Become less locked into gender role expectations and stereotypes. Increase your ability to have close relationships with same gender friends.

What are 3 ways to help LGBTQ peers feel safer? › Use these ideas and resources to create a safe and welcoming environment for every student in your school….

5 Things You Can Do to Support Your LGBTQ Students

  • Post Safe Space Signs. …
  • Start an LGBTQ Organization at Your School. …
  • Stand Up Against Homophobia. …
  • Integrate LGBTQ Topics into the Curriculum.

Why is Lgbtq an ethical issue? ›

In many societies around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are subject to abuse and attacks. Gender and sexual minorities are excluded and stigmatised because of who they are, and alarmingly, many countries still have laws and policies that specifically make homosexuality a crime.

How does social media influence Lgbtq? ›

Additionally, 40% of LGBTQ adults, as well as 49% of transgender and nonbinary people, do not feel welcomed and safe on social media. This is because of the levels of hate and harassment they face while on platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, according to GLAAD.

What are the possible ways that a community can actively increase Lgbtq+ inclusivity? › CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO DESCRIBE WHO THEY ARE AND AVOID ASSUMING PEOPLE’S IDENTITIES, NAMES, AND PRONOUNS

  • Foster Safe Environments for Individuals to Reveal Their LGBTQ+ Identities. …
  • Be Careful Not to Assume the Gender or Partner Preference of Individuals.

How do you make an inclusive environment for LGBTQ? ›

Create a welcoming physical environment.

​Post signs that identify the room as a safe space, clearly designate a comment box, clearly post a nondiscrimination policy, set out LGBTQ health brochures, magazines, and reading materials, and specifically identify gender-neutral, single-occupancy restrooms.

How can I help someone who is LGBTQ? › Stonewall has more information on being an ally.

  • A good support network helps all of us have higher self-esteem and better mental health. …
  • Don’t make assumptions. …
  • Listen to their experiences. …
  • Show them you care. …
  • Support them to seek help. …
  • Join a support group. …
  • Read about LGBTIQ+ issues. …
  • Learn more about their specific problem.

How do you show pride in your community? ›

Displaying the flag, marching in a hometown parade, buying local. These are all ways citizens show pride in their country and in their community. And small business owners are joining in. It’s good for the community, and it’s good for business.

What is the difference between pride and Lgbtq? ›

Both months recognize the LBGTQ community in different ways. Pride Month is dedicated to the observance of community visibility and the movement toward equality, while LGBT History Month is an observance of the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.

What does rainbow community mean? ›

‘Rainbow communities’ is a broad umbrella term that covers a diversity of sexual orientations, as well as gender and sex identities.

Why should students learn about LGBTQ? ›

LGBTQ-inclusion and visibility benefits all students by promoting acceptance and respect, and teaching them more about the diverse people and families in the world. LGBTQ-inclusion supports a student’s ability to empathize, connect, and collaborate with a diverse group of peers, and encourages respect for all.

What can schools do to help LGBT community? ›

Create safe spaces, such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where LGBTQ+ youth can receive support from administrators, teachers, and other school staff. Research suggests that when teachers get involved to stop harassment and bullying, students feel safer.

Is Pride an ethical issue? ›

Fundamentally, pride is the moral principle of valuing one’s self-esteem and taking the steps required to achieve it. We need such a principle because of our profound need for self-esteem, and because a robust self-esteem, grounded in the facts of reality, is not something we can achieve easily or automatically.

What is a moral issue in your own understanding? ›

“Moral issue is a working definition of an issue of moral concern is presented as any issue with the potential to help or harm anyone, including oneself.”

What are examples of moral issues? › ETHICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES

  • Privacy and Confidentiality. Privacy has many dimensions. …
  • Socially Vulnerable Populations. …
  • Health Insurance Discrimination. …
  • Employment Discrimination. …
  • Individual Responsibility. …
  • Race and Ethnicity. …
  • Implementation Issues.

What city is most Lgbtq friendly? › Where is the most LGBT friendly place to live? ›

Austin, Texas. Austin, ranked the No. 1 place to live in America in 2019, is a “big city with a small-town heart,” according to Lonely Planet.

Where is the safest place to live if you are Lgbtq? ›

Nevada tops the list for most LGBTQ+ friendly states while Alabama ranks as the worst state, according to a report by USA Today. Following Alabama as the worst states for LGBTQ+ people are: Wyoming.

How has technology helped the LGBT community? ›

Social media, dating apps, VPNs and blockchain technology have all played a part in creating these new spaces. They have offered LGBT people more opportunities to connect, explore issues facing their community and most importantly, feel safe.

Is Spotify Lgbtq friendly? ›

It also recognized the ways audio and art have always been avenues for LGBTQIA+ expression. We encouraged the queer community of creators and listeners to continue to make noise, make their presence known, and make their own rules.

Can social media Participation enhance LGBTQ+ youth well being? ›

Abstract. Social media sites offer critical opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and other sexual and/or gender minority (LGBTQ+) youth to enhance well-being through exploring their identities, accessing resources, and connecting with peers.

What steps will you do to promote inclusive in your community? › Five ways to make society more inclusive

  1. Create inclusive classrooms. …
  2. Design accessible communities. …
  3. Make workplaces inclusive. …
  4. Increase disability representation and leadership in media, politics and business. …
  5. Actively engage with your community members with disabilities.

What are some ways you can establish trust and rapport with your Lgbtq+ patients? › Creating a Welcoming Environment for LGBTQ+ Clients

  • Establish trust and rapport with patients. …
  • Normalize and validate – ask the questions as you would to any patient.
  • Ask open-ended questions – “Tell me about yourself? …
  • Be aware of issues particular to, or different for, the LGBTQ+ population:

How do you make LGBTQ feel welcome? › 10 Best Practices to Make LGBTQ+ Attendees Feel Welcome

  1. Don’t make assumptions about your attendees. …
  2. Follow attendees’ leads on relationships and pronouns. …
  3. Proactively welcome LGBTQ+ guests/attendees. …
  4. Acknowledge non-binary attendees’ needs (i.e., bathrooms). …
  5. Share knowledge of local LGBTQ+ events and history.

How do you create a positive inclusive environment? › 5 inclusivity practises to consider

  1. Create a supportive, respectful environment: promote diversity and fairness.
  2. Have high expectations of all your students. …
  3. Create a supportive peer culture both inside and outside the classroom. …
  4. Plan learning which includes participation from everyone and encourages success.

Why is inclusive design important to our community? ›

Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities. An inclusive approach to design offers new insights into the way we interact with the built environment.

How can you be all inclusive of genders? › Best practices/strategies

  1. Use non-discriminatory language. 1.1 Forms of address. …
  2. Make gender visible when it is relevant for communication. 2.1 Using feminine and masculine pronouns. …
  3. Do not make gender visible when it is not relevant for communication. 3.1 Use gender-neutral words.

How do you support someone who is coming out? ›

Below are some suggestions you may wish to follow.

  1. Thank your friend for having the courage to tell you. …
  2. Don’t judge your friend. …
  3. Respect your friend’s confidentiality. …
  4. Tell your friend that you still care about them, no matter what. …
  5. Don’t be too serious.

How can I help someone with gender? ›

  1. Do Your Research. There is growing recognition that gender is not a simple binary (male and female), but rather a spectrum. …
  2. Show Respect. Be respectful of an individual’s affirmed gender identity, name, and pronouns. …
  3. Be an ally and advocate. …
  4. Get support if needed.

Why is it important to have pride in your culture? ›

Cultural pride, for many, is the epicenter of values and identity. They hold pride of the custom and culture that their families and community have been holding on through hundreds of years, and as they preserve the essence of their culture, they do grow, they do learn to identify the flaws and acknowledge them.

What is the importance of pride? ›

Pride events are about human rights, empowering LGBTQ+ individuals to reclaim the rights and freedoms they are denied, and the public space they often feel excluded from. Visibility is crucial to fighting shame and social stigma, marching in the face of threats and violence.

What does the P in pride stand for? ›

Originally adopted by UCSF Medical Center 16 years ago, these set of values are organized under the acronym PRIDE, which stands for Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence.

What is the Lgbtq flag called? ›

The rainbow flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) 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.

Why is October LGBT history? ›

October was selected because it coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11, and because it is the month of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979.

What does this flag mean 🏳 🌈? ›

This particular flag is used to represent the LGBTQ community and is used to express Pride in this community. Both the actual flag and the emoji depicting it are often referred to as the Pride Flag. The Rainbow Flag emoji is used both by people who self-identify as LGBTQ as well as by their allies.

What are the seven colours of 🌈? ›

This sequence of colours gives us the characteristic pattern we’re all familiar with, and that we learn from childhood through the use of mnemonic phrases. The colours of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

What causes a 🌈? ›

A rainbow is caused by sunlight and atmospheric conditions. Light enters a water droplet, slowing down and bending as it goes from air to denser water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its component wavelengths–or colors. When light exits the droplet, it makes a rainbow.

How can I help LGBT patients? ›

10 Tips For Caring For LGBTQIA+ Patients

  1. Expand your own LGBTQIA+ care knowledge. …
  2. Be aware of key LGBTQIA+ definitions. …
  3. Deepen your LGBTQIA+ knowledge. …
  4. Create a welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ patients. …
  5. Use inclusive language. …
  6. Use gender-neutral language. …
  7. Ask open-ended questions. …
  8. Reflect the patient’s language.

How can I improve my Lgbtq health? ›

  1. Include sexual orientation and gender identity in nondiscrimination policies.
  2. Create a welcoming environment. …
  3. Ask transgender patients for their preferred name and pronoun and use them. …
  4. Ensure transgender individuals have reasonable access to restrooms.

What can schools do to help LGBT community? ›

Create safe spaces, such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where LGBTQ+ youth can receive support from administrators, teachers, and other school staff. Research suggests that when teachers get involved to stop harassment and bullying, students feel safer.

What is LGBT in health and social care? ›

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are being let down by health and social care, says the report, with structures and services that are not inclusive or designed with them in mind, and a lack of leadership in Government, the NHS and social services.

How can I help someone with gender? ›

  1. Do Your Research. There is growing recognition that gender is not a simple binary (male and female), but rather a spectrum. …
  2. Show Respect. Be respectful of an individual’s affirmed gender identity, name, and pronouns. …
  3. Be an ally and advocate. …
  4. Get support if needed.

How can I help my LGBTQ child? › But it doesn’t have to be.

  1. Talk and listen. Start with something simple like “I love you.” Then, let your child talk to you about how they are feeling. Provide a place for open and honest conversation.
  2. Offer support. You are the adult. …
  3. Be proactive. Look into online resources, peer groups and community support.

What causes LGBTQ health disparities? ›

LGBTQ health disparities are preventable gaps in physical and mental health that stem from social stigma, discrimination, and denial of civil and human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


1. LGBTQ+ Terminology: The Importance of Educating Yourself 2. Stress and Resilience in the LGBT Community (The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law) 3. Things About LGBT Folks that Christians Just Don’t Seem to Get 4. LGBTQ+ Community Debates the Meaning of “Queer”, Military Bans, & More (Part 1/2) 5. Understanding Violence within the LGBTQ Community (Moraine Valley Community College Library) 6. Relationships: What is the best way to be an LGBTQ+ ally?

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