RISE: Respect, Inclusion, Safety, Equity

Rainbow Spectrum

The acronyms and words used to describe 2SLGBTQ+ people and communities continue to evolve, reflecting the complex nature of all members of the LGBT2SQQIA* and other communities. Often, the terms gender and sexuality diversity (GSD) or sexual and gender minority (SGM) persons can be used to describe 2SLGBTQ+ issues and persons (for instance, variations of the acronym exist that include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and sometimes an asterisk or plus to indicate that other sexual or gender minority identities can be read in).

While many of these terms/acronyms are provisional and can be used by different persons in different contexts, it is always important to remember that individuals identify themselves in different ways using different terms, some of which may be unfamiliar or possibly indicate emerging gender and sexually diverse identities. If you are unsure, you may also ask an individual, for instance, how they refer to themselves or what pronoun they prefer.

We have decided to adopt the practice of placing “2S” for “Two Spirit” at the beginning of “LGBTQ” to acknowledge that Two Spirit Indigenous people were the first sexual and gender minority people in North America, and also to demonstrate solidarity with them in this period of truth and reconciliation in Canada.  We have also added the plus sign to the end of “LGBTQ” to acknowledge the many sexual and gender minority people who don't see themselves in the umbrella acronym and prefer other identity terms such as pansexual, gender-free, or intersex.

In our research reports, we include provisional glossaries to help explain identity terms, education terms, and terms for systems of privilege and marginalization, in various contexts. (See The Every Teacher Project final report, pp. 3-8; The National Inventory project final report, p. 10 [French glossary terms can be found on the corresponding pages in the French reports]; and The Every Teacher Project Recommendations Toolkit, pp. 9-13.)

You may also find resources online, though it is important to remember that language around gender and sexual diversity is constantly evolving, so there is no definitive guide for terminology. The following are a number of links to glossaries that provide a few resources on terminology.

Lambda Legal:

BC’s Qmunity: Queer Resource Centre’s 2013 booklet “Queer Terminology: From A to Q”:

The European RAINBOW Project’s online glossary:

Stonewall UK:


As well, many of Egale Canada’s resources and GLSEN’s Safe Space Kits (such as their Safe Space Kit 2016) include glossaries of terms that are updated regularly. Teacher organizations across Canada are also producing excellent resource materials, policies, workshops, and training opportunities with glossaries and advocacy materials (see links in External Resources and Organizations).