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2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion

2SLGBTQ+ learners and staff are safe, welcomed, included, protected, and supported.

Click on a best practice for indicators that clarify how to meet the best practice.
Technical terms have been glossed for your convenience; hold your cursor over the gloss to see a definition.

Statements of Best Practice

  • Program policies and practices acknowledge that both learners and staff have the following rights and freedoms:
    • To be addressed by the names/pronouns of their choice
    • To privacy of information related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
    • To talk about and express their sexual orientation and gender identity (e.g., through choices in clothing, hair styles)
    • To be free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
    • To establish and join voluntary student organizations such as Gay-Straight Alliances (or Gender-Sexuality Alliances) and participate in events that foster 2SLGBTQ+ awareness
    • To see themselves reflected in course content, posters, messaging, advertisements, etc.
  • Program policies outline clear anti-bullying expectations and zero tolerance for violence and discrimination towards sexual and gender minorities.
  • Instances of discrimination, bullying, and violence targeting 2SLGBTQ+ learners or staff are taken seriously, investigated, and dealt with according to clear processes.
  • The program ensures the staff’s protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • The program considers individuals from the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the hiring and promotion processes equally without bias.
  • The program makes it safe for sexual and gender minority teachers to be as authentic/out/open as they wish to be.

  • Program policies, course outlines, student guidebooks, and diversity statements include an explicit statement of welcome to all learners, including sexual- and gender-diverse learners.
  • Program policies, course outlines, student guidebooks, and diversity statements demonstrate clear anti-bullying expectations and zero tolerance for violence and discrimination towards sexual and gender minorities.
  • Forms, waivers, and other communications directed to learners are gender-neutral and avoid heteronormative or binary/cisnormative assumptions.
  • There is a visible message of support leading to inclusion posted on websites and in hallways, information boards, designated walls, classrooms, etc.
  • 2SLGBTQ+ learners have access to school facilities such as washrooms, locker rooms, and change rooms that align with their gender identity.

  • Onboarding training includes an orientation to program expectations regarding inclusive culture and practices, with explicit reference to the rights, support, safety, and inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Workshops and training, offered by 2SLGBTQ+ individuals/support groups/educators, are provided that address some of the following:
    • The history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Canada
    • The equal rights and freedoms of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Canadian law
    • Appropriate language to use
    • Stories of 2SLGBTQ+ immigrant and refugee learners
    • Promotion of self-awareness of one’s own assumptions and biases
    • Promotion of empathy, perspective taking and nonjudgmental approaches to difference, especially with regard to the 2SLGBTQ+ community
    • Increasing the capacity of educators to model and encourage the use of inclusive language, perspective taking, and nonjudgmental approaches to difference, etc.
    • Identifying and presenting appropriate learning resources with 2SLGBTQ+ content
    • Increasing the capacity of instructors to design learning materials and activities that address 2SLGBTQ+ content
    • Providing support for 2SLGBTQ+ instructors to navigate their own approach to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion
  • Instructors are encouraged to collaborate with colleagues to explore ways to promote 2SLGBTQ+ allyship and to seek input and mentoring from willing 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.
  • The program does not presume that their 2SLGBTQ+ staff represent the voice of all sexual and gender minorities; neither does it put undue burdens on their 2SLGBTQ+ staff to educate others.

  • The program provides support to 2SLGBTQ+ learners or connects them with agencies that can provide that support (e.g., support groups, employment counselling, and immigration services).
  • Services for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals are offered with full acceptance of sexual and gender diversity (i.e., without bias or judgment).
  • Schools have a crisis response policy or clear processes to follow to address 2SLGBTQ+ learners’ concerns.
  • The program supports 2SLGBTQ+ learners in efforts to initiate discussions of 2SLGBTQ+ topics and student-led initiatives, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (or Gender-Sexuality Alliances).
  • The school community provides diverse and meaningful ways for 2SLGBTQ+ learners to participate in community-building activities, such as volunteering, advocacy opportunities, peer networks, and mentoring/being mentored.

  • Instructors teach with the assumption that there are 2SLGBTQ+ learners in their classes who are not visible or out; that is, they recognize that some learners may never choose to be visible or out.
  • Clear expectations are set out for respectful interactions and inclusion of all learners in the class, with explicit mention of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • Homophobic and transphobic comments are confronted and addressed according to clear policies and guidelines.
  • Instructors use and model appropriate and respectful language when referring to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
  • Instructors use language that includes everyone in the class, and they avoid language that assumes everyone in the class is straight or cisgender, for example:
    • By using inclusive terms like “parents,” “grandparents,” “folks,” “couple,” “partner,” “students.”
    • By stating and asking for preferred pronouns.
    • By using the 3rd person singular “they” to avoid assumptions about gender.
    • By replacing binary forms of address such as “Hello, ladies/gentlemen” with greetings such as “Hello, everyone.”
  • Instructors avoid dividing learners into groups based on gender identity.
  • Classroom activities that involve families and holidays (Family Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day) are undertaken in a way that welcomes and includes 2SLGBTQ+ learners and their families (i.e., heteronormative or binary expectations are avoided).
  • Messages of support for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals are visible and explained in the classroom (e.g., rainbow sticker, trans flag or other symbols recognizing minority sexual and gender identities).
  • 2SLGBTQ+ learners see themselves mirrored in the content and curriculum of the class; that is, 2SLGBTQ+ lives are apparent in visuals, examples, illustrations of families, activities, role-play options, etc.

  • 2SLGBTQ+ equal rights are included in discussions about human rights and laws in Canada.
  • Variations in gender identity, gender expression, and family are normalized and come up naturally in all areas of learning, for example:
    • Relevant curriculum themes (health, employment rights, government, Canada’s history, family, education)
    • Examples and illustrations of families, partners, marriages
    • Activities (e.g., role-play options, reading/listening comprehension activities)
    • Language skills and instruction (e.g., reading critically to identify stereotypes; editing a passage to make it more inclusive; a grammar lesson on inclusive pronouns)
  • Materials that include 2SLGBTQ+ perspectives, histories, stories, and contributions to the community are incorporated into class content.
  • Instructors take care to include stories of 2SLGBTQ+ success, so 2SLGBTQ+ students see aspirational representation, and other students do not associate 2SLGBTQ+ with only struggle and adversity.
  • A wide spectrum of 2SLGBTQ+ identities are included to portray the vast diversity within the community.

  • Learners are exposed to and learn appropriate language to use when referring to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
  • 2SLGBTQ+ resource speakers/staff/students are invited to share their stories, challenges, and successes in life.
  • An intersectional approach is taken, with a focus on the intersection of minority sexual orientations and gender identities with other marginalized identities (e.g., immigration, language status, ethnicity, race).
  • Learners encounter 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, or stories of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, with whom they can relate on other dimensions (e.g., 2SLGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees, students, parents, job seekers, members of a profession they wish to join, etc.).
  • A safe and brave space is fostered and modelled where learners can share their stories, speak their truths, explore their own and other’s attitudes, and ask questions in an appropriate and respectful manner.


This section includes descriptions of what the Best Practices might look like when applied in a variety of contexts.

I prepare EAL learners for the workplace. Many of my students are struggling to adjust and adapt to Canadian workplace culture and expectations, and many come from conservative backgrounds with varying cultural differences and religious beliefs. As they prepare for employment readiness, I have noticed their discomfort when building communication and working relationships with co-workers and bosses/managers from the 2SLGBTQ+ community. To help my students overcome their discomfort, I do the following:

  • I engage students in discussions about diversity and inclusion at work and create activities that get students thinking about why they are uncomfortable around certain populations. Are these biases fair or accurate?
  • I introduce information such as the provisions in the Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act and the Alberta Human Rights Act which “prohibits discrimination in employment based on the protected grounds of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, family status, source of income, and sexual orientation.”
  • I have students role-play workplace scenarios where they apply their communication skills and use inclusive language and expressions. For example, I encourage them to address people as “Hi, everyone” or “Hello, everybody,” instead of the traditional “Ladies and gentlemen” or other expressions that assume binary male/female gender. We also role-play avoiding assumptions and using gender-neutral pronouns/nouns for inquiries or statements about family members, such as “they” instead of “he” or “she” and “spouse” or “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife.”
  • I provide and have learners read free booklets and online materials from ALIS Alberta on what to do if you experience discrimination because of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.
  • I engage students in problem-solving scenarios like confronting bullying and discrimination in the workplace, providing them with helpful tips and phrases to use in addressing these issues, and making them aware of their individual rights as workers and people in Canada.

I teach CLB 3–4 learners in LINC, and we often do activities on the theme of family. Before starting learning activities, we chat a bit about family to elicit students’ prior knowledge and their own definition of family. Sometimes students mention that their understanding of family structure has evolved compared to what they had thought back home. To open the discussion to diverse perspectives on family, I do the following:

  • I ask students to give examples of how their ideas of family have changed. I invite students to ask questions and engage with the information shared.
  • We brainstorm for the different types of families that students know about, making sure that same-sex parents are among the many structures included. I use this activity to normalize the many variations of family structures that exist in societies.
  • I give an overview of how family structure has evolved by introducing students to family vocabulary like “nuclear,” “extended,” “common-law,” “single-parent,” “blended,” and “same-sex” families.
  • I show pictures and video clips of a variety of families, including same-sex couples and parents, and individuals whose gender expressions are outside the binaries of male and female to further normalize a variety of genders and family structures. Students then create narratives about the families’ lives based on the scene in the photo or video (e.g., One parent is cooking dinner, while a child is playing with their sibling; One mother is washing dishes, and the other mother is playing with the children).
  • I create an activity for students to share about their own family structures in small groups. I make it clear that students can choose to share as much or as little information about their families as feels comfortable for them.

I address the confusion that learners at all levels sometimes express related to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion in Canada. For instance, one of my students told the class that she was uncertain about using a washroom because it was “gender-neutral” and didn’t have a female sign. In order to promote understanding, I do the following:

  • I ask questions and probe to prompt inquiry and reflection: Who is allowed to use this washroom? Who do you think might be afraid to go into a gendered washroom? What are the advantages of a gender-neutral washroom?
  • I use this confusion as an opportunity to introduce relevant vocabulary and language, for instance, around non-binary identities (identifying neither as fully male nor fully female) and transgender identities (identifying as a gender that is different from your biological sex assigned at birth).
  • I encourage perspective-taking and the development of empathy, for instance, by brainstorming for challenges non-binary or transgender individuals may face when using the washroom that feels right to them.

I teach intermediate LINC classes, and I find myself fielding all sorts of questions from curious learners. For instance, a young man in my class mentioned that he had seen a Pride parade, and asked about the significance of the rainbow flag and the letters. When these questions arise, I often assign some independent exploration on these topics.

  • I brainstorm with the class about good Google search terms they could use to learn more (e.g., Pride parade; rainbow flag; 2SLGBTQ+ meaning). Students take out their phones, do some exploring, and share their findings. I record the information they gathered on the board and welcome additional questions.
  • I remind all learners about our classroom expectations of respect, kindness, and inclusion—everyone belongs. I encourage them to assume that there are people in the room who are 2SLGBTQ+ or whose loved ones are 2SLGBTQ+ (myself included) and to make sure that what they say conveys respect. If students use inappropriate language, I non-judgmentally help them find the correct terms. I always confront homophobic and transphobic statements with a reminder that those comments are not permitted in our classroom, and that 2SLGBTQ+ equal rights are the law in Canada.

I teach English for healthcare professionals. I want to make sure that any 2SLGBTQ+ learners in my class know that they are welcome and safe, and I want any of my learners’ future 2SLGBTQ+ patients/clients to receive compassionate and inclusive care. To encourage this, I model inclusive practice through the following actions:

  • My name tag and my email sign-off also includes my pronouns. When I introduce myself to the class, I point that out and ask if they know why this has become a common practice.
  • Students read an article about 2SLGBTQ+ seniors going into long-term care. They complete typical vocabulary and comprehension activities, learn appropriate vocabulary to use, and reflect on implications for their future practice. A few mentioned really relating to the article in their concern for their own 2SLGBTQ+ loved ones.
  • When I design role-plays, I include scenarios with same-sex spouses and patients/clients/co-workers with gender-neutral names and they/them/their pronouns.
  • When I teach a grammar lesson on subject-verb agreement, I bring up the use of the singular they/them pronoun to be inclusive and not assume someone’s gender. I have students rewrite paragraphs written in the 3rd person singular (he/him or she/her) to make them both less awkward and more inclusive (using plural nouns and they/them/their).