Bonnie Meinke Bonnie Meinke

Diversity Resources for Working with LGBTQ Audiences

Updated on May 8, 2015 - 2:22 PM CDT
Posted on April 27, 2015 - 2:37 PM CDT

Tags: SMD E/PO Community | Educator

Diversity logo with three dotsWelcome to the Cross-Forum Diversity Programs & Resources

homepage focused on LGBTQ Audiences.


SMD Diversity Programs and Resources > LGBTQ

The following information was provided by Carolyn Brinkworth from IPAC/Caltech:

The issues facing us when dealing with LGBTQ audiences are almost exclusively around using safe, LGBTQ-inclusive language. The resources below cover some of this, but one of the best ways to be an ally is to take Safe Zone training. Many universities now offer this training through their diversity centers or human resources departments. If your institution doesn't offer it, request it - it's common and has been shown to be effective at improving campus climate for LGBTQ students, staff and faculty. 

General Advice

Be aware that LGBTQ terminology changes quickly, and may be different for each generation/cohort of students. Don't be afraid to ask students if they identify using language you don't understand. See below for more resources. 

Never assume a student's gender unless you have heard them self-identify as male or female. It's not at all uncommon for students to not identify with the gender binary. If in doubt, ask their "preferred gender pronoun." This is an entirely respectful question, and is asked like e.g. "Hi, my name is Professor X, and my preferred gender pronoun is she, her, hers. Let's go round the class, and please tell me your name, your favorite color and your preferred gender pronoun." This is especially recommended for groups of students that you know are LGBTQ. Other common PGPs are "he, him, his," and "they, them, their." See below for more resources.  

If you hear homophobic language in a classroom (including "that's so gay") then always say something. Many people are afraid of speaking up because they're worried about saying the wrong thing. Saying something is always better than saying nothing. Saying something transforms you from an aggressor into an ally, and can make the world of difference to an LGBTQ student. Bear in mind that over 80% of LGBTQ students are bullied in school. LGB students are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, while transgender students are 8 times more likely to attempt. See below for more resources. 



Supporting LGBT+ Physicists & Astronomers: Best Practices Guide for Academic Departments

Growing up LGBT in America: Human Rights Campaign Report,

W. J. Blumenfeld. 1993. Making Colleges and Universities Safe for Gay and Lesbian Students: Report and Recommendations of the Massachusetts Governors Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. Boston, Massachusetts.

Evans, N. J. (2002). The impact of an LGBT Safe Zone project on campus climate. Journal of College Student Development, 43(4), 522-539

E. V. Patridge, R. S. Barthelemy, & S. R. Rankin. 2014. Factors Impacting the Academic Climate for LGBQ STEM Faculty. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 20: 75-98.

S. R. Rankin. 2003. Campus Climate for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People: A National Perspective. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.

S. R. Rankin, G. Weber, W. Blumenfeld, & S. Frazer. 2010. State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People. Charlotte, NC: Campus Pride.



LGBT Terminology: - Note that terminology in the LGBTQ community changes quickly, and often depends on the age/generation of the people you are talking to. The safest way to avoid causing offense is to never use a term to refer to someone unless you've heard them use it to self-identify. Even then, be cautious, especially around words that have been reclaimed from historical slurs, such as "dyke" and "queer."

The Genderbread Person: - a great, free resource explaining the difference between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. 

"What the heck is a Preferred Gender Pronoun?"

The Trevor Project: 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. - their free Lifeline number is 1-866-488-7386 and is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors. Put it in your cell phone so you have it if you need it. 

Safe Zone Training Workshop (if you want to bring someone in, this is an option):

Safe Zone Training materials (if you have people in-house qualified to give this training, and just need materials):


Professional Organizations

Working Group for LGBTIQ Equality (AAS):

NOGLSTP (National Organization for Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals:

oSTEM (Out in STEM):


If you prefer, everything here is also listed in the SMD Education Diversity Programs and Resources homepage if you want to use the filter features of the revised workspace or find information about other diverse audiences and issues.