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What does LGBTQ+ mean?

LGBTQ+ is the umbrella term that is often used to refer to the many different types of sexual identities that exist outside of heterosexuality. Below is a list of the most common identities and their definitions. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Sexual Identity: Definition:
Lesbian A lesbian is a female homosexual: a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females.
Gay Gay is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual. Gay is often used to describe homosexual males but lesbians may also be referred to as gay.
Bisexual Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes termed pansexuality.
Transgender Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. It is sometimes abbreviated to trans.
Queer Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual or cisgender. Queer was originally used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires but the word has begun to be reclaimed. 
Questioning The questioning of one’s gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, and concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons.
Intersex Intersex is a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female.
Asexual Asexuality (or nonsexuality) is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation, or one of the variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.
Pansexual Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is sexual attraction, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.

LQBTQ+ Harassment and Bullying Statistics

Recent studies carried out by The Forum and Stonewall have shown a number of key findings with regards to LGBTQ+ harassment and bullying at university: 

Negative Comments from University Staff

More than a third of trans students (36%) and 7% of lesbian, gay and bi students who aren't trans faced negative comments or conduct from university staff in the last year because they are LGBT.

Negative Comments from Other Students

Three in five trans students (60%) and more than one in five lesbian, gay and bi students who aren't trans (22%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from other students. Furthermore, 60% of students reported having witnessed peers acting negatively towards people because of their sexual orientation at least once, and 10% saw or heard this behaviour every day.

Identifying LGBTQ+ Bullying

In all scenarios, heterosexual respondents were less likely to have seen or heard LGBTQ+ bullying than any other group.

Reporting LGBTQ+ Bullying

Two in five trans students (39%) and more than one in five lesbian, gay and bi students (22%) wouldn't feel confident reporting any homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying to university staff.

Hiding Sexual Identity

More than two in five LGBT students (42%) hid or disguised that they are LGBT at university in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination.

Homophobic Name Calling

More than half of lesbian/gay students reported having experienced homophobic or transphobic name-calling in their educational setting.

What does LGBTQ+ Harassment and Bullying look like?


This can be when someone else, with a different sexual identity, would be or is treated more favourably than you. This also includes abuse and harassment based on sexual orientation. An example of this would be when a patient says they "don't want to catch HIV" in reference to being close to a homosexual doctor. 

Abuse and harassment can be split up into hate incidents and hate crimes. Much like with other forms of discrimination, if the victim or anyone else thinks an act was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on sexual orientation then it is a hate incident. If there is a criminal offence that is carried out with this motivation, it becomes a hate crime. Below are some examples of each:

Hate Incidents

  • Verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes
  • Harassment
  • Bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
  • Physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
  • Threats of violence
  • Hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
  • Online abuse, for example on Facebook or Twitter
  • Displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
  • Harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, vehicle
  • Graffiti
  • Throwing rubbish into a garden
  • Malicious complaints for example over parking, smells or noise

Hate Crimes

  • Assaults
  • Criminal Damage
  • Harassment
  • Murder
  • Sexual Assault
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Burglary
  • Hate Mail

The most common types of LGBTQ+ bullying found in university are name-calling, harassment, threats/intimidation and physical assault. These are most commonly experienced by LGBTQ+ students and more often by those who identify as non-binary rather than male or female. It is important to note that heterosexual students can and do also experience biphobic, homophobic or transphobic behaviour if they are perceived to be LGBTQ+ by the perpetrator. 

This kind of bullying can come from students, teachers and patients alike. 


This is when the rules and policies of an institution discriminate against different racial groups.

An example of this would be when complaints about LGBTQ+ harassment and bullying are not listened to or taken seriously. 

Where can I get support?