At the end of another Pride month, still no agreement on which LGBT acronym to use

Campus Reform reached out to more than two-dozen American universities’ LGBT resource centers to find out which acronym they use and why.

Across American universities, acronyms and flags associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities vary markedly. 

For all the Pride programming in June, there is a variety of flags and acronyms used. 

The longest acronym Campus Reform has identified to date is “2SLGBTQQIA+,” which stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, Asexual, and Pansexual. 

Campus Reform reached out to more than two-dozen American universities’ LGBT resource centers to find out what they prefer and why.

Below are the colleges and universities that responded. 

College of Staten Island (CUNY)

Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, Coordinator for the LGBTQ Resource Center, informed Campus Reform that, despite the name of his office, he preferred the ‘+’. He noted, “[t]he office was created and named prior to plus being more often used.”

Jurkiewicz told Campus Reform that his office uses both the traditional rainbow pride flag and the progress pride flag, with the latter being his preferred flag.

The so-called ‘progress flag’ is an amalgamation of the traditional rainbow flag and the light blue, pink, and white trans flag. The banner also includes black and brown stripes to represent people of color within the LGBTQ community.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Pat Tetreault, Director of the LGBTQA+ & Women’s Centers, commented to Campus Reform that “[w]e use LGBTQA+ at UNL.” The “A” stands for “Ace/Aro and Allied.”

“When we opened the center in 2007, it was LGBTQ,” Tetreault said. 

According to the Oxford LGBTQ+ Society, Ace refers to those who identify as ‘asexual’, and ‘Aro’ to someone who “fluctuates between experiencing romantic attraction and not experiencing it, and/or experiencing romantic attraction to different strengths.”

“We added the plus to be acknowledge [sic] all the other identities under our umbrella,” Tetreault said. “We wanted to intentionally include while not continuing to add letters to the acronym.”

Tetreault told Campus Reform her office uses “a variety of identity flags, and [has] a small tabletop display that has a variety of the identity flags.” When a large flag is needed, her office uses the progress flag because “[w]e believe visible signs of inclusion are important so using a flag that includes Trans and PoC identity representations is important.”

Left: Pride Flag; Right: Progress Flag with the circle symbolizing “Intersex”

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Jo Fox, Peer Outreach Specialist at the LGBTQ+ Resource Center,  explained to Campus Reform that UW-Milwaukee “uses the acronym ‘LGBTQ+’ when referring to our queer resource center… and regularly uses it when addressing queer-identifying students over written communications, such as in newsletters, or demographic reporting information.”

The university’s LGBTQ+ Studies Certificate Program “uses a variety of acronyms to address the queer community, to help students understand its possible variations.” 

Fox told Campus Reform the approach to flags is similarly expansive. “We interchangeably use both the progress and traditional pride flags…Besides pride flags, we regularly use the *trans flag, as one of the main demographics of students who utilize our center are *trans-identifying, and we have a staff comprised of many *trans folx.”

Eastern Michigan University

Jay Sloan, on behalf of Your Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, informed Campus Reform that the center “use[s] LGBT in our formal communication headers since that is what we’re able to use as dictated by the university, but in the body of our communications we tend to use LGBTQ+!”

“We also have a preference for the progress flag!”, Sloan exclaimed.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Michelle Fryling, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Executive Director of Media Relations, relayed to Campus Reform that “[o]fficially, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) uses LGBTQIA for our programming. Our faculty/staff group will use LGBTQIA+ as a means of being additionally inclusive. LGBTQIA was chosen at the time as representative for the community.”

IUP “uses the Progressive Pride Flag while also displaying other identity flags on recognition days such as [the] Transgender Day of Visibility. We have a variety of flags hanging in our LGBTQIA Support space.”

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