Resources on sexual and gender diversity and gender identity and transgender issues.

What is gender identity?

Gender identity can be a complex issue for youth. Learning more about gender and sex and how we see ourselves as a boy/male, girl/female, transgender, intersex or somewhere in between, can help increase understanding and help youth establish their own gender identity. These resources on sexual and gender diversity and gender identity and transgender issues are a good place to start.

What is sexual orientation?

This is the sexual attraction and/or feelings of romance a person has for another person. Sexual orientation may include attraction to the same gender (homosexuality), a gender different than your own (heterosexuality), both men and women (bisexuality), all genders (pansexual), or neither (asexuality). HealthLink B.C. has some good resources on sexual orientation, plus definitions and links to supports.

What is sexuality?

Sexuality is complex and involves many parts of who we are, our values and beliefs, our experiences and relationships and more. Sexuality is a term used to describe the way that people express themselves as a sexual being. Sexuality involves many aspects of being human.

Some may find a visual or picture of these ideas that is suitable for children and youth helpful to understand and explain how it all fits together.

Why is it important to foster a gender-inclusive school environment?

We live, study and work in a diverse gender society. Today’s children and youth are growing up in a new gender world. It is important to acknowledge and create an environment that respects and celebrates our differences in gender identities and sexual orientation and expression. Creating an inclusive culture prevents children and youth from experiencing distress, discrimination, bullying and ultimately negative health outcomes. Creating a respectful environment helps transgender and gender creative children lead happy, healthy and confident lives.

What do transgender and gender creative mean?

Transgender or “trans” is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differ from their assigned sex and/or the societal and cultural expectations of their assigned sex.

Gender creative refers to people, often children, who identify and express their gender in ways that differ from societal and cultural expectations.

How can teachers help create inclusive environments in schools?

We need to learn to treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of our differences in gender, sexual orientation and sexual expression. We need to build understanding about the diverse society that we live in. Here are some tips from SOGI Education on how to build this culture in the classroom.

  • Use inclusive language. Say, “Good morning everyone” instead of “good morning boys and girls.” Say, “Students should turn in their papers” instead of each student should turn in "his or her paper.”
  • Use language for all families. Refer to a student’s “family” and “parents” instead of “mom and dad” to include students who may have single, step or LGBTQ parents, or alternate guardians. More ideas in QMUNITY’s inclusive language guide.
  • Expand your vocabulary. Ask questions about and get clarity on respectful language for talking about sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Be visually welcoming and inclusive. Display an LGBTQ rainbow sticker/safe space sticker or flag to show your school and class are LGBTQ allies. The BC Teachers’ Federation has more ideas to show your support.
  • Increase awareness and access. Make it easy for students to learn about and talk about sexual orientation and gender identities. For example, celebrate LGBTQ related awareness days or help set up a Gay-Straight Alliance club.
  • Use inclusive social categories. When providing instructions, use social categories that speak to all students. Divide students into groups based on birthday month, for example, rather than by “boys and girls.”
  • Create an inclusion policy. Welcome and celebrate students’ differences in gender identities and sexual orientations and expression. Build strategies to understand the diverse society that we live in into the school curriculum. 
  • Respond to hurtful language. It’s important to speak up when students make comments such as “that’s so gay,” even if they don’t mean harm. Consider these responses. “Gay people and their loved ones are all around you. Most of them, as well as others, are offended every time they hear this.” Or, encourage them to try other words to say what they mean, such as, “That’s so stupid, that’s so weird, that’s so boring!” Learn more at SOGI Education.

Resources