A mini explanation of queer, LGBTQ. A useful place to start helping folks separate genders from sexualities.
Download Activity View as Google Doc Copy to my Google Drive


  • Facilitator guide and participant handouts

Facilitator Framing

  • This is the most lecture-heavy part of Safe Zone curriculum. If you are going to use the sample lectures give it a read a few times before doing it so that you can know the flow and general sense of it before facilitating.

Goals & Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will be able to understand that there is a difference between gender and sexuality.
  • Participants will be able to identify the difference between the L, G, B, Q, and the T of LGBTQ.

Process Steps

  1. Frame the activity. For example, “We are going to move now from talking about vocab to talking about some frameworks and ways to make sense of a lot of that vocabulary. First we are going to start with the LGBTQ umbrella handout. This handout helps us make some sense of the LGBTQ acronym.”  
  1. Quickly explain the letters, the idea of the queer umbrella, and the distinction between sexualities and genders. You can do this by reading the handout aloud, or using the example lecture below.
  2. Wrap-up the activity.

LGBTQ Umbrella Example Lecture

If you could all turn to the page with the umbrella image on it, we want to explain what the LGBTQ letters represent, how they refer to different identities, and why we often use the phrase “umbrella term.” When we discuss “LGBTQ” people, one thing we generally forget to make clear what, exactly, those letters mean. For example, there is no such thing as an “LGBTQ” person. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer are all different labels, representing different identities. Importantly, they are words that relate to folks’ experiences of gender and sexual identities — two things we often confuse for being one and the same.

LGB all represent sexual identities. And the T represents a gender identity. And the Q — sometimes referring to “Questioning,” but generally meaning “Queer” — is often used as an umbrella term, in an affirming and positive way, to lump all marginalized sexualities and genders together.

We’d like to draw your attention to the umbrella handle itself, because while these identities are all often grouped together, we’re talking about distinctly different aspects of our humanity and experience: sexuality and gender.

When we say sexual identities, sexualities, or sexual orientations, we are talking about are the ways we categorize and define who we are attracted to. When we “gender identities” we are talking about the ways we categorize and define our genders.

So, to recap: on one side we have queer sexualities (Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual, to name a few), and on the other we have queer genders (Transgender, to name one), and we often group all of these under the umbrella term of “queer.”