Gender & Sexual Diversity

Banner that reads "Gender and Sexual Diversity" with Pride flag.

Western University is committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all, including those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities). Western recognizes and celebrates the rich diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, and believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our Wellness & Equity Education 'Gender & Sexual Diversity' page has been designed to provide a comprehensive community-based resource for individuals who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ and their allies. This is a safe space where individuals can access information, support, and resources that are relevant to their unique experiences and needs.

Our goal is to empower and uplift the voices of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, creating a campus culture that embraces diversity, promotes equality, and celebrates all of our human experiences. Together, we can build a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

2SLGBTQIA+ Key Terms

Gender Identity

A component of gender that describes a person’s psychological sense of their gender. Many people describe gender identity as a deeply felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or male; a girl, a woman, or female; or a nonbinary gender (e.g., genderqueer, gender-nonconforming, gender-neutral, agender, gender-fluid) that may or may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth, presumed gender based on sex assignment, or primary or secondary sex characteristics” (APA, 2022).

Gender Expression

How a person publicly expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language, and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender. All people, regardless of their gender identity, have a gender expression and they may express it in any number of ways” (the519, 2020).

Sex Assigned at Birth

Describes the sex, separate from gender identity, that someone was given at birth based on their external anatomy” (CCDI, 2022, p. 30).

Sexual Orientation

Any preference they may have towards the gender(s) of sexual partner they choose. (source)

Romantic Orientation

Any preference a person may have towards the gender(s) of romantic partner they choose. (source)


Two-Spirit: “an English umbrella term to reflect and restore Indigenous traditions forcefully suppressed by colonization, honouring the fluid and diverse nature of gender and attraction and its connection to community and spirituality. It is used by some Indigenous People rather than, or in addition to, identifying as LGBTQI”. Not all queer Indigenous people use this term, but Two-Spirit is an identity specific to being Indigenous and can only be claimed by Indigenous people (CCDI, 2022, p. 33).

Lesbian: "a woman who experiences attraction primarily to other women or towards feminine people. The term lesbian includes anyone who identifies as a woman: including trans women" (Trans Wellness Ontario, n.d.).

Gay: “someone who experiences attraction primarily to someone of the same gender” (Trans Wellness Ontario, n.d.).

Bisexual: “a person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender, and some people of another gender. The term bisexual does not necessarily enforce the gender binary - it simply means that the person experiences attraction to two or more genders” (Trans Wellness Ontario, n.d.).

Trans: “An umbrella term referring to people whose gender identities differ from the sex they were assigned at birth. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over the gender spectrum. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming (gender variant or genderqueer)” (the519, 2020).

Queer: someone who is not heterosexual to describe their individual sexual orientation. Additionally, the term queer can also be used as an umbrella term to describe the diverse community outside of heterosexuality” (Trans Wellness Ontario, n.d.).

Intersex: “A person born with sex characteristics (chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals) that do not fit the typical medical definitions of male or female bodies” (the519, 2020).

Asexual: a person who experiences a lack of sexual attraction. Asexual people may not want to have sex, they may not be interested in sex, they may not experience sex drive or libido, or they may be repulsed by sex - each person’s experience of asexuality is unique. (Trans Wellness Ontario, n.d.)

+: Acknowledges the ongoing and ever-growing diversity of gender, sexual and romantic expressions.


“A person whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth. The term is often shortened to ‘cis’” (the519, 2020).


A person who believes in the dignity and respect of all people and takes action by supporting and/or advocating with groups experiencing social injustice. An ally does not identity as a member of the group they are supporting (Allyship & Ambassador Guide).

Pride at Western

The Pride Flag Represented on Campus

The original Pride flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The multiple colours on the flag were meant to reflect a diverse and varied 2SLGBTQIA+ community with each of the colours holding symbolic meaning.

In June 2017, the city of Philadelphia adopted a revised version of the flag as part of the city’s More Color; More Pride campaign. The added black and brown stripes were meant to address issues of racism and exclusion in Philadelphia, but the new symbol quickly raised the attention of communities of colour globally.

At Western, two rainbow crosswalks were debuted to celebrate Pride in July 2017. The pride flag is flown on campus throughout the month of July. Canada celebrates Pride during the month of June, but due to London’s Pride taking place in July, Western celebrates during both months.

Universal Washrooms

Western began building universal washrooms across campus for students, staff, faculty, and visitors. This change reflects a shift in thinking about the use of washroom space in terms of the service it provides, as opposed to the identity of the person using it. Universal washrooms create a more comfortable space not only for transgender and gender non-conforming people, but it also increases comfort for those with disabilities, people with children, and others. 

Academic Programs

The Pride Library provides public access to materials by and about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Located in the D.B. Weldon Library. Here is a reading list dedicated to some of the 2SLGBTQIA+ books available on campus.

The Sexuality and Gender Research Group brings together researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities with scholars in other disciplines to discuss questions of sexuality and gender from a variety of disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

The Queer Caucus is intended to help forge community, facilitate academic alliances, promote scholarship, provide a venue for activism, and encourage discussions and practices of diverse forms of 2SLGBTQIA+ pedagogy.

Peer Connections

Pride USC is a student-run advocacy and support service committed to fighting for the rights of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community both at Western and in the surrounding London area.

The Allyship Network is an outreach and educational service dedicated to creating allyship, inclusivity, and safer spaces while promoting the following objectives: creating a safe, accepting, and inclusive environment, where diversity is understood and embraced; reducing fear of discrimination or harassment; educating participants about challenging issues, and creating a visible support network for the entire Western community.

Spectrum UWO is a student-run club that works to bring students together for the common goal of building a safe space for 2SLGBTQIA+ students on campus and creating a social network through various events and socials throughout the year.

The Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) Pride Commissioner advocates on behalf of 2SLGBTQIA+ SOGS members. In addition to representing the community’s interests at SOGS Council meetings, the Pride Commissioner helps connect students to resources, supports local 2SLGBTQIA+ events, and seeks out ways to support 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Western EngiQueers is a student-run undergraduate engineering club that promotes and celebrates diversity, specifically focusing on members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Western OUTlaws is a Western Law student group aimed to foster community, mentorship, and professional development among 2SLGBTQIA+ students and faculty.

Ivey Pride is an Ivey School of Business student-run Pride Club. The Ivey Pride Club mentors, connects, and celebrates 2SLGBTQIA+ people in business.

Impacts of 2SLGBTQIA+ Violence & Discrimination

Homophobia, transphobia and any form of violence or discrimination based on or targeting a person’s sex, gender identity or gender expression is unacceptable at Western and in violation of a number of Western University policies.

Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who experience violence or discrimination based on other aspects of their identity may experience unique examples of violence on our campus and in our community.

Anyone can experience GBSV, but research shows that certain populations are at higher risk of being targeted. Whether you identify with any of these populations or not, this information may be difficult to read. Be sure to take care of yourself and access support if necessary.

2SLGBTQIA+ Violence & Discrimination Statistics:
  1. Almost half (49%) of lesbian and bisexual women indicated that they had been physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner since age 15, almost double what was indicated by heterosexual women (25%). (source)
  2. Transgender Canadians were more likely to have experienced violence since age 15 and are more likely to have experienced harassment in public, online and at work than cisgender people. (source)
  3. 70 percent of trans youth in Canada have experienced sexual harassment. (source)
  4. Since 2019, hate crimes targeting sexual orientation have risen in Canada. Since 2020, there has been a rise of 64%. (source)
  5. Over half of all anti-2SLGBTQIA+ homicides were perpetrated against transgender women, with nearly three-quarters of those homicides targeting people of colour. (source)

While this information is difficult to read, it is extremely important to acknowledge and understand the struggles faced by those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The more we discuss and recognize the violence and discrimination 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals experience in our society, the better likelihood we have to enact real change.


An ally to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is an important role that takes time, thought, understanding and action. Allies work towards recognizing their own biases and privileges, creating a safe and confidential space for those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, and actively speaking up when witnessing acts of aggression, violence, or oppression against 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

Here are some ways to be an ally to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community:

  1. Don’t assume someone’s gender identity, gender expression, sexual or romantic orientation.
  2. Ask people what their pronouns are and use them accordingly. If you make a mistake, correct yourself. Correct others if they use the wrong pronoun.
  3. Use gender-neutral language such as “Welcome folks” or “Hello everyone” rather than “Welcome ladies and gentlemen”.
  4. Reflect on your own assumptions and biases around gender and sexual stereotypes.
  5. Take responsibility for your own education on issues related to gender and sexual diversity.

For more information on how to be a supportive ally, scroll down to our 'learn more' section for recommended resources.

Supports on Campus

Wellness & Well-being

Wellness & Well-being provides health appointments, counselling supports, group care and workshops to faculty, staff and students on-campus.

Trans Care Team

The Trans Care Team comprises a group of clinicians from Health & Wellness who work together to provide specialized psychological counselling and medical care to students in a 2SLGBTQIA+ affirmative environment.

Residence Counselling

Free counselling available to Western students living in residence.

Student Support and Case Management

There are a range of resources available to support students in difficult situations. The role of Student Support Case Managers is to help students in exploring and navigating these services.

Gender-based and Sexual Violence Survivor Support Case Manager

The Gender-based Violence & Survivor Support Case Manager connects survivors with resources and support, regardless of whether a formal complaint is submitted.

Human Rights Office

The Human Rights Office provides information on the university’s discrimination and harassment policies, employment equity and diversity, and other human rights-related issues.

Office of the Ombudsperson

The Office of the Ombudsperson assists students with academic and non-academic performance problems and in reviewing their rights. The Office can suggest various strategies for managing conflicts and challenges.

Supports in our Community

LGBT Youthline

The LGBT Youth Line is a toll-free Ontario-wide peer-support phone line for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, queer and questioning young people. Mon-Fri 4:00PM-9:30PM EST Text 647-694-4275 or visit to live chat with a Peer Support Volunteer.


A monthly support group for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and their friends, family and allies.

Trans Health Clinic

The trans-specific section of the London InterCommunity Health Centre.

Queer Events

An organization that seeks to help the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in London connect through events, programs and initiatives. Queer Events also contributes to education and advocacy for a more inclusive, diverse and welcoming London community.


24 hour crisis and support line call 519-642-3000 or 1-800-265-1576.

Atlohsa Family Healing Services

Indigenous-led programming and services that offer holistic healing, education, shelter and support. Atlohsa Family Healing Services Crisis & Support Line: 1-800-605-7477.

Trans Lifeline

Call 1-877-330-6366 or visit their website for more information.

Trevor Lifeline

24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.


Confidential helpline: Call 1-866-925-5454 or text "GOOD2TALKON" to 686868. 

CHMA Crisis Services/Reach Out

Call 519-433-2023 or 1-866-933-2023 or use the live chat at

Learn More

Western’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: A Guide for Inclusive Language

This short guide highlights inclusive language related to gender and sexual diversity, pronouns and more.

The 519

A Toronto based agency committed to the health, happiness and full participation of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities providing comprehensive resources and education on a variety of topics related to the experiences of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities in Canada.

Coming Out Resources

A collection of resources developed by the Human Rights Campaign (an American-based organization dedicated to ending discrimination against 2SLGBTQIA+ people) to help you come out and live openly at home, at work and in your community.

The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity

A national organization working to empower gender and sexually diverse communities through education, research, and advocacy. Their collection of resources cover topics related to trans resources, allyship/GSAs resources, intimate partner violence resources and more.

Being an LGBTQ Ally

A guide to help build understanding and comfort with supporting and advocating alongside the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Allyship & Ambassador Guide

Suggestions for acting in allyship with the Two-Spirit Community on Campus- A guide created by Egale Canada to help campuses build inclusive environments for Two-Spirit and self-identified Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ students.

LGBT Youthline Resource List

A comprehensive list of online resources on topics related to settlement, faith, sexual health, self-care, homelessness and so much more all focused on 2SLGBTQIA+ experiences.