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Understanding sexual orientation

Supporting staff and pupils to understand sexual orientation

A person’s sexual orientation, or sexuality, is the part of their identity that relates to who they find attractive.  Although it is in the name, the attraction to other people does not have to be sexual, it could be romantic or connection based.  Some people are attracted to a particular gender, or genders, some people are attracted to who the person is (their morals, values, humour, intelligence, etc.) and for some it is a combination of the two.

You may see the letters “LGBT” or (“LGBTQ+”) used to describe sexual orientation.  This abbreviation stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and other”).   Transgender isn’t really a sexual orientation.   People who are transgender are often included with lesbian and gay as a way to include people who do not feel they fit into the category of being “straight.”15  

Nearly half of lesbian, gay and bisexual children experience derogatory comments in establishments.  This increased to over 64% for Transgender children. 4

Explanation of different sexual orientations

Bullying, prejudice and racism (BPRI) resource 2022

One-minute guide on understanding sexual orientation 

Support, advice and resources