Sexual Orientation & Gender

Sexuality | Gender | Sexual Orientation | LGBTQ+ | Coming Out

You may have seen the acronym LGBTQ+, or terms like sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. They are used a lot these days, but it may not be clear what each one means or how they are different from each other. 


Sexuality captures many aspects of who you are, including your reproductive anatomy, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It includes how you feel about yourself, how you view your gender identity, sexual orientation and preferences, and how you interact with other people.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gender is defined as the cultural roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes expected of people based on their sex.

Learn more: Gender

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s sexual and emotional attraction to another person and the behavior and/or social affiliation that may result from this attraction (lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.). (CDC)

Learn more: Sexual Orientation


This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and the ‘plus’ is used to capture all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that letters and words cannot fully describe. Sometimes other versions of the acronym are used to include more identities, like LGBTQIA+. (CDC)

Remember that the acronym and various terms are always evolving. The important thing is to respect others and use the terms that people prefer (it’s okay to ask if you don’t know).

Coming Out

“Coming out”, which is a shorter version of the term “coming out of the closet”, is used to describe an LGBTQ+ person telling others about their sexual orientation, romantic orientation or gender identity.

Learn more: Coming Out

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