In a survey conducted in February and March 2023 by Ipsos, nearly 1 in 10 adults across 30 countries identify as LGBT+. The presence of the LGBT+ community began to increase in 2021 when Ipsos began surveying globally. Almost half (47%) of adults say they have a relative, friend, or co-worker who is gay or lesbian, compared to 41% in 2021[1].

Some people believe that there is a population increase focused on the LGBT+ group, but in reality, the growth of movements to advocate, raise awareness, and understand gender has given many people the opportunity to explore themselves, speak up, and find the community they belong to.

Children and adolescents should be equipped with practical knowledge about gender to develop healthily. However, as gender knowledge is increasingly updated and there is a big difference between the current generation of parents, teachers, and students, schools, and parents will need to update and share common gender knowledge, to convey the most essential and appropriate information and resources to children.

This article will provide basic information about LGBT+, gender, common issues for LGBT+ children, and suggested activities to raise awareness about the gender/LGBT+ community at school.

1. What Is LGBT?

LGBT+ is a general term used to refer to anyone who does not identify as heterosexual (a person who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex) or cisgender (a person whose gender identity/expression is similar to that typically associated with their assigned sex at birth). The term LGBT+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual, with the plus sign '+' used to include those whose identities do not fit typical binary notions of male and female, or who decide to identify themselves using other categories to describe their gender identity or their understanding of their sexuality [2][3].

People in the LGBT+ community identify themselves according to the way they understand themselves, not the way others "classify" and impose on them to be called "bisexual" or “transgender".

2. Basic Gender Terms

To better understand the LGBT+ community, you can refer to the list of words and concepts below:

2.1. Biological sex: In biology, sex characteristics, such as genitals and chromosomes, are used to classify sex. Based on that, biological sex includes male sex, female sex, and intersex - people with biological sex characteristics that are not typical of men or women.[4].

2.2. Gender identity: While sex is determined through genetic characteristics, gender is defined by society, culture, and personal experiences. A person's biological sex or sexual orientation does not necessarily determine their gender identity. It is the gender that an individual perceives himself or herself to be. Some people feel that the binary designation of “male” and “female” does not suit them, and most often describe themselves as non-binary, and use pronouns other than he/she/...

2.3. Sexual orientation: Including sexual orientation and emotional orientation, indicating long-term sexual attraction or affection towards one or more different genders. Sexual orientation is often classified based on the gender of the people they are attracted to, for example, homosexuals are people who are sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same sex. Additionally, some people who tend not to experience romantic/sexual attraction call themselves asexual.

LGBT+ is abbreviated for 4 popular sexual orientations including:

  • L - Lesbian: Used to refer to a person of the female gender who experiences sexual/emotional attraction to the female gender.

  • G - Gay: Used to refer to a person of the male gender who experiences sexual/emotional attraction to the male gender. Gay is also used to refer to homosexuality in general.

  • B - Bisexual: Bisexuality is someone who feels romantically or sexually attracted to two different sexes. Those two genders can be male, female, or a person who does not identify themselves as male or female (non-binary).

  • T - Transgender/Transsexual: When a person's gender identity does not match their biological sex, they are transgender. Transgender people can have a gender identity of male or female. In many cases, transgender people can be both male and female or have no gender. Transgender people are often divided into transguy/transman - people whose biological sex is female but whose gender identity is male, and trans girl/transwoman - people whose biological sex is male but whose gender identity is female.

2.4. Gender expression: Gender expression is the way we express our gender identity outwardly, expressed through clothing, colors, and personal items. A person's gender expression may coincide with the typical gender expression of gender identity but must not always be consistent with gender identity. Typically, gender expressions include masculine, feminine, and neuter [5].

Some other terms you may have heard before:

  • Queer and Questioning: Queer refers to individuals in the LGBT+ community. Historically, queer is often used with a pejorative connotation, similar to "homosexual" in Vietnam. Nowadays, the LGBT+ community has tried to "reform" the way words are used to fight discrimination. Questioning refers to people who are in the process of learning and discovering their sexuality, and they may be uncertain about their gender identity and sexual orientation according to a "label" in the LGBT+ community or not [6].

  • Ally: Ally is not a sexual label like bisexual or a gender label like genderfluid. It refers to people supporting, respecting, and accompanying the LGBT+ community.

3. Some Common Misunderstandings About Gender, Sexual Orientation & LGBT+ Community

Myth #1: Sexual Orientation Is A Choice

Sexual orientation is often stable, not a personal choice, and cannot be changed. A person whose biological sex is male does not choose to be gay when growing up, but through time of discovery and experience, they find themselves attracted to and have feelings for males.

While gender education still has many limitations, and this is a topic that many people are still shy about and avoid discussing, many people spend years, even decades, to know their gender identity or sexual orientation to which they belong.

Myth #2: People In The LGBT+ Community Are People With Psychological Problems

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially removed "homosexuality" from ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems). Since then, May 17 every year has been remembered as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) [7]. In the field of psychotherapy, since 1994, homosexuality has no longer been considered a "disease" and is no longer listed in the DSM-V.

In Vietnam, in August 2022, Official Dispatch No. 4132/BYT-PC from the Ministry of Health requested not to intervene or force treatment on homosexuals; disseminate information so that doctors, medical staff, and people who come to medical examination and treatment facilities have a correct understanding of the LGBT+ community, as well as eliminate "gay treatment" services, and discriminatory practices against homosexuals. Psychological support services for people in the LGBT+ community need to be provided by people with knowledge of the community and gender identity. [8].

From the above information, we can see that Vietnam as well as the world's leading health and psychology organizations have recognized that homosexuality is not a "disease" and that people in the LGBT+ community do not need to be "treated" and forced to change sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Myth #3: Contact With People In The LGBT+ Community Can "Spread" Homosexuality

Because homosexuality is not a disease, contact and meetings with people in the LGBT+ community do not change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or biological sex.

The LGBT+ community does not live separately and independently, they can be of any age, skin color, or ethnicity, work in a variety of professions, and live in many places around the world. Having a friend, colleague, or neighbor in the LGBT+ community can help a person understand more about the community and gender concepts, thereby expanding opportunities to discover more about themselves.


Gender terms and concepts can be complex and confusing to those who have never been exposed to them. However, with a spirit of inquiry and openness, knowledge about gender and the LGBT+ community can allow us to discover new aspects of ourselves and understand others.


[1] Global survey finds 9% of adults identify as LGBTQ. NBC News.

[2] What Does LGBT Mean? Know the Basics. engage.youth.gov.

[3] LGBT+. Council of Europe.

[4] Tính dục: 7 thuật ngữ thông dụng bạn nên biết. Vietnam Youth Alliance.

[5] Tất tần tật về thuật ngữ trong cộng đồng LGBT. Vietnam Youth Alliance.

[6] “Queer” và “Questioning”: những nhãn dán LGBT mới? Vietnam Youth Alliance.

[7] 17 May: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. European Council.

[8] Đồng tính không phải là bệnh, không cần chữa. Thanh Niên.



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