Document Type


Publication Date



LGBT; Health Research; Health Policy; Standardized Vocabulary; LGBT Health; Prevention and Community Health; Management Approaches to Public Health; DC Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs


BACKGROUND: In the past two decades, the LGBT community in the United States has been more visible, active, and positively accepted by society. As acceptance progresses, research interests on the LGBT population have increased, driving the need for standard language for researchers to share for comparative and community-based participatory research. "What term is right?" is often the question researchers ask a very diverse LGBT community. In August 2012, the District of Columbia's Office of LGBT Affairs identified incongruent language in a number of published reports commissioned by the Mayor's Office. The Office realized the importance of standardized language for health services research in order for studies and findings to be generalized.

OBJECTIVE: To create an executive document for the Mayor's Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs (GLBT) of standardized LGBT language that can be distributed and used by DC Government agencies in survey questions and other data collection tools in order to assess reliability and gain fidelity.

METHODS: Three previous research reports were analyzed along with the Philadelphia LGBT Community Assessment Report (2006) that presents the results of data collection and analysis about LGBT populations in the City of Philadelphia. These reports expanded upon a growing body of work being done nationally that examined the demographics and trends of LGBT communities and their cultures. The new ACA guidelines regarding HHS standards for data collection was also analyzed for this research. About 15-20 current studies, reports, and surveys on the LGBT community were also analyzed to gain knowledge of current language usage in LGBT research. Finally, a literature review was conducted to gather terms used in published works.

RESULTS: A glossary of thirty new standardized terms were created defining words, including homophobia, sexual identity, intimate partner, among others. The glossary was provided to the Mayor's Office for utilization during data collection within the LGBT community and was distributed to DC Government agencies for drafting LGBT surveys, in-take forms, and other data collection tools.

CONCLUSIONS: The current climate surrounding LGBT issues calls for both politically correct and culturally sensitive language. Minimal research has been conducted to strengthen LGBT terminology for health services research. Creating a standardized glossary of terms for the Office of LGBT affairs was necessary to bring clarity and consistency to research conducted in the LGBT community.


Presented at: George Washington University Research Days 2013.

Title on poster: "Standardizing GLBT Research Vocabulary".

Open Access




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.