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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Sexual orientation is an identity based on whether someone is attracted to people of a sex different than their own, the same sex, or both sexes (i.e., heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual). Gender identity is a person's internal sense of being male, female, or somewhere else along the gender spectrum. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from their biological sex or the sex they were assigned at birth. The acronym GLBT stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. While progress has been made since the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City (1969)—widely considered to be a pivotal moment in the GLBT rights movement—GLBT individuals still face discrimination and intolerance based on pervasive stereotypes and myths about GLBT people.

Main Issues

GLBT-related issues often arise in schools. These include bullying or harassment against students (and sometimes school personnel) who are or are perceived as GLBT; the high rates of truancy, dropout, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide among GLBT youth; controversy surrounding GLBT school events and student clubs; the right of school personnel to “come out” or identify as GLBT in school; and other issues. In many jurisdictions, GLBT school personnel still lack legal or contractual employment benefits, rights and protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To address GLBT issues effectively, NEA members may consider taking one or more of the following steps in their schools or communities:


For more information on sexual orientation and gender identity, visit the following:

Send an e-mail for information about the NEA's Safety, Bias & GLBT Issues Program.