LGBTQIA+

People of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions face a complex array of challenges at home and in displacement. 

Despite considerable progress in legal protection and inclusion, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and agender (LGBTQIA+) people continue to face significant barriers to life and learning. It is still illegal to be gay in 69 countries, and 11 countries still impose the death penalty for consensual same-sex activity. Violence and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) are major factors causing displacement and impacting the health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ people around the world. 

These challenges extend to schools and learning centers. LGBTQIA+ students routinely face bullying and discrimination. Globally, 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth reported having been ‘ridiculed, teased, insulted or threatened at school.’ 37% reported feeling rarely or never safe at school. This persecution and fear of persecution, combined with the stress of displacement, can become toxic, and result in higher rates of absenteeism and school drop out, as well as lifelong learning impairments and physical and mental health issues.

Key Concepts:

Sex: The physical and biological characteristics that distinguish males and females. It refers to a person’s anatomy and physical attributes such as external and internal reproductive sex organs. Source: INEE, 2019.

Gender: The socially constructed roles, responsibilities, and identities for women and men and how these are valued in society. They are culture specific and they change over time. Gender defines how women and men are expected to think and act. These behaviors are learned from family, schools, religious teaching, and the media. Source: INEE, 2019.

Sexual Orientation: A person’s sexual and/or romantic attraction to persons of different sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to no persons of any sex or gender. Examples include, but are not limited to heterosexual/straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual. Source: ORAM, 2016.

Gender Identity: A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender (e.g. of being a man, a woman, both, neither or something else), which may or may not correspond to societal expectations based on their sex assigned at birth. Source: ORAM, 2016.

Gender Expression: External characteristics and behaviors that may be perceived as masculine, feminine and/or neutral based on societal and cultural norms. These are often expressed through clothing, hair, body language, etc. Source: ORAM, 2016.

For additional definitions and guidance on appropriate and affirming terminology, refer to ORAM’s Essential Terminology for the Humanitarian Sector.

Key Messages:

  • SOGIE concepts and terminology vary immensely across cultures, as do beliefs and attitudes about sexual and gender diversity. Using respectful, affirming language can help create a safe environment where LGBTQIA+ individuals can establish trust and be forthcoming about their needs and experiences.
  • All students, regardless of their SOGIE deserve to feel safe and supported in their schools and communities. Gender-based bullying, harassment, and violence in and around schools should be closely monitored and referral mechanisms strengthened
  • Teachers and school staff play a vital role in creating a safe atmosphere for students. However, many do not have access to accurate information or feel confident in their ability to teach about SOGIE. Training on SOGIE and LGBTQIA+ experiences, as well as time to critically evaluate their own beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors may help teachers and school staff to develop the awareness and skills needed to create safe, supportive learning spaces for their students. 
  • Comprehensive sexuality education that includes affirming and medically accurate LGBTI-related information can help combat misinformation and support students to make informed decisions about their relationships and health. 

This collection was developed with the support of Lauren Gerken, Gender Coordinator, INEE.
 

Manual/Handbook/Guide

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression: Essential Terminology for the Humanitarian Sector

Published by
Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM)

A five-language dictionary, glossary and usage guide to assist humanitarian professionals communicate effectively and respectfully with and about people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Available in English, French, Turkish, Farsi and Arabic.

 

Arabic
English
Farsi
French
Turkish
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Sexual & Gender Minority Refugees Safe Space Checklist

Published by
Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM)

The Sexual and Gender Minority Refugees Safe Space Checklist can be used to ensure that your agency is open and safe for sexual and gender minority (SGM) refugees and asylum seekers. Also available in Spanish, French and German.

French
German
Spanish
Project Brief

The Sustainable Development Goals and LGBT Inclusion

Published by
Stonewall International

This short guide demonstrates some of the ways LGBT equality can be achieved through the SDGs and showcases some of the work that is already being done worldwide to make sure LGBT people are fully included and have their needs met.

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Need to Know Guidance: Working with LGBTIQ+ Persons in Forced Displacement

Published by
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

A guidance note on working with LGBTQIA+ individuals in forced displacement contexts. Includes terminology, guiding principles, and recommendations for promoting safe and inclusive spaces and addressing operational protection risks. 

English
French
Russian
Spanish
Training Material

Training package: SOGIESC and working with LGBTIQ+ persons in forced displacemen

Published by
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

A comprehensive training package on the protection of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) for UNHCR and IOM personnel as well as the broader humanitarian community. 

English
Training Material

LGBTQI+ Considerations in Education

Published by
US Agency for International Development (USAID)

This learning module introduces USAID staff and partners to principles and methods of integrating LGBTQI+ considerations into education programming.

English
Manual/Handbook/Guide

Integrating LGBTQI+ Considerations into Education Programming

Published by
US Agency for International Development (USAID)

This document supports USAID’s staff and partners working in the education sector to integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) considerations into programming and across the Program Cycle.

English
Website

Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration (ORAM)

Published by
Organization for Refuge, Asylum, & Migration (ORAM)

ORAM protects and empowers LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees on every step of their journey, working along displacement routes and in transit countries. They connect individuals with the resources and opportunities they need to build safe, stable and empowered lives. 

English
Website

Rainbow Railroad

Published by
Rainbow Railroad

Rainbow Railroad is a global not-for-profit organization that helps LGTBQI+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

English