In addition to celebrating our 25th year in ministry, the Covenant Network of Presbyterians is proudly partnering with APCE (Association of Partners in Christian Education) to celebrate LGBTQIA+ people and equip you with inclusive liturgies, youth programs, and other resources. On June 22, join the APCE Zoom Roundtable for more information about supporting sexual and gender minorities. 

First, we’ll explore the meaning behind “the LGBTQIA+ community.” 

You probably already know that the “L” refers to lesbians, or women who experience attraction to other women. However, you may not know that earlier versions of the acronym appeared as GLBT. During the HIV/AIDS crisis, many lesbians cared for gay men, and the growing solidarity between the two groups inspired the reorganization of letters to LGBT.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the word “gay” increasingly described men in relationships with other men. Over time, the word appeared more often in descriptions of all same-gender relationships. Legally recognized same-sex marriage expanded to all fifty states on June 26, 2015. 

Bisexual people can be attracted to more than one gender.  A man and woman could be happily married, yet not use the term “heterosexual couple,” and two women in a devoted marriage may not understand themselves to be a “lesbian couple” when one person is bisexual.  It is called “bisexual erasure” when assumptions about relationships or individuals do not leave room for the possibility of bisexuality.

A transgender person’s identity does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. This includes gender non-binary people, who are outside of the male/female gender binary. Using transgender people’s correct names and pronouns provides easy and effective support. Avoiding the word choice “identifying” also helps to affirm our transgender neighbors. After all, you wouldn’t say “X identifies as a cis woman.” Our Stated Clerk, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, has said,

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stands with transgender community members, affirms their sacredness – as they are created in the image of God….”

“The word “queer,” sometimes used to include any marginalized gender or sexual identity, can provide a wide umbrella for people who don’t feel particularly attached to other labels. Originally a slur against those in same-sex relationships, the word was later reclaimed by some activists in the decades to come. The “Q” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym can also refer to people who are questioning their identities

Up to 1.7% of the population carries an intersex trait, and about 0.5% of people display clinically identifiable sexual variations. Intersex people experience biological variants that do not fit categorically into the binary gender assigned at birth​.

Check out “Well Chosen Words for suggestions that can better reflect the diverse experiences of all God’s children, including intersex people.

Asexuality spans a range of little to no sexual attraction to varying degrees within each individual. As an unchosen identity, asexuality is different from the choice to practice celibacy. Asexual people may have spouses or children. We can support our asexual neighbors by accepting people’s relationship choices, resisting intrusive questions, and speaking out when we hear assumptions that all people must want sexual or romantic relationships.

The “+” creates space for anyone else who is marginalized for their sexuality or gender, but does not relate to other labels listed in “LGBTQIA.” For example, some Indigenous people refer to those with both masculine and feminine traits as “two-spirit”.


“draw us to You in this queer space that You, the Nothing and the Everything, the Creator and the Child, the +, inhabit so gracefully.

(From “Gathering Prayer for Pride Month” by Slats Toole, available in our inclusive liturgy resource here.)

May the Church fully welcome all people whether they are cisgender and heterosexual, LGBTQIA+, or still searching for words that describe their experiences.

With a longstanding commitment to education in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Covenant Network of Presbyterians is proud to work with APCE and spread knowledge about God’s beloved LGBTQIA+ children.