Let’s Talk Sex!: Inclusive Sex Education Curriculum

Lesson 1: Gender and Sexual Identity


In this lesson students will start with a silent personal reflection on their understanding of the terms sexual orientation and queer, they will then work in teams on an activity to match terms to definitions. Afterwards, they will share their understanding with the class, and the facilitator will provide correct information, guide, and fill in blanks. Students will then have the opportunity to learn about gender as a fluid concept and begin or continue a journey of self discovery with the help of a guiding handout.

Target Audience:

The target audience is 9 graders who are taking a high school health, or a physical education class. The ideal class size for this lesson is 12-30 students (so that students can break off into groups comfortably, and the administrator can manage efficiently).


As a result of this lesson students will have a greater understanding about the diversity of gender and sexual identities.


At the end of this lesson, all students will be able to:

  • Identify the difference between sexuality and gender by completing a matching handout individually and in small groups.
  • Acknowledge that gender and sexuality are different for everyone by listening and partaking in a class discussion.
  • Reflect on their own personal feelings regarding sexuality and gender by completing a Genderbread Person handout.
  • Feel comfortable with exploring sexuality and gender for themselves by participating in a class discussion.


45 minute class period

  • Introduction to the lesson & space guidelines: 10 minutes
  • Do Now/Reflection: 5 minutes
  • Matching activity & processing: 20 minutes
  • Handout activity: 5 minutes
  • Wrap up: 5 minutes


The teacher should obtain the following materials for this lesson:

Advanced Preparation:

Space Guidelines

  • Feel free to write an abbreviated version on flipchart paper and explain the context verbally.
  • Treat each other with dignity and respect – support each other.
  • Trust each other. What someone shares in this activity stays private.
  • Practice being open-minded and aware that what you say affects others.
  • It’s okay to not know the right answer and to admit it. This group can learn together. Someone else probably has the same misconception.


Introduction to the lesson & space guidelines (10 minutes)

Welcome students back to class today and explain that this week we will be covering the sex education unit of the class. Explain that this unit will consist of two lessons across two days: Gender and Sexual Identities; Safe Sexual Health, Behavior, & Practices (Consent).

Say, “To get us started, today we’ll be discussing identity, specifically gender and sexual identity.”

Point to and communicate the space guidelines from the flipchart to the students.

  • Treat each other with dignity and respect – support each other.
  • Trust each other. What someone shares in this activity stays private.
  • Practice being open-minded and aware that what you say affects others
  • It’s okay to not know the right answer and to admit it. This group can learn together. Someone else probably has the same misconception.
Say, “What are some things that you want to add, or think will be helpful?”
Limit this to 2-3 answers to keep with time.
If a student adds a guideline, make sure to check with the class to check if it is cool with everyone. Say “does everyone agree to adding this,” or simply tell the students to put a thumbs up if they agree.

Do Now/Reflection (5 minutes)

Say, “Sexuality may be confusing, and your identity doesn’t need to fit neatly into a single definition or label. However, it is important to understand what some sexuality terms mean because for some people having a definition or label for their identity is really validating/affirming to who they are. We want to make sure that we know and use language in a way that is tolerant/validating/affirming of other people.”

Bring out the flipchart paper with the terms “sexual orientation” and “queer.”

Ask the students to think about how they define these terms (or how they’ve heard these terms defined by others. Give the students 3 minutes, individually, to write down what they believe each word means on the index card.

When time is over, say, “Hold on to your response for now and feel free to keep thinking about them, we’ll revisit these terms together later.”.”

Matching activity & processing (20 minutes)

Hand out the Sexuality/Gender Terms and Definitions sheet. Review the instructions with the students aloud and ask if there are any questions before beginning.

Give the students 5 minutes to fill out the sheet individually.

Say, “We will now discuss the terms in groups of four. Each group will be given a new, blank sheet, identical to the one you have just completed. Work together as a group to match the terms to their definitions. You will have 5 minutes. The group with the most correct, will receive a (candy/sticker/etc) tomorrow in class. Please write the group name at the top of the sheet”

Hand out one new, blank Sexuality/Gender Terms and Definitions Handout to each group.

Give the students 5 minutes to complete this in a group.

Collect the groups sheets, with the groups name at the top (to grade after class and determine the winner – to be announced tomorrow).

Discuss the two terms “sexual orientation” and “queer” from the beginning of class. Say something like, “Now that we’ve looked at a wide variety of different sexual orientation and gender terms, let’s go back to that reflection from the beginning of class.”

Sexual Orientation:

Ask students (2-3) to share their definitions from the index card at the beginning of class. Validate students’ responses that are generally correct/acceptable and gently adjust/correct any responses that are completely incorrect using the definition below for guidance.

Say: “Sexual orientation is the type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others. Often labeled based on the gender of the person and who they are attracted to. Common labels for sexual orientation: lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, etc.”

If time allows, ask students for questions, allowing for about 1-2 questions.


Ask students (2-3) to share their definitions from the beginning of class.
Say: “The term “queer” can relate to sexuality and/or gender (as in “genderqueer”). It’s an adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual. Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don’t apply to them.”

If time allows, ask students for questions, allowing for about 1-2 questions.

Go through each of the definitions on the Teacher’s Guide to the Sexuality/Gender Terms and Definitions Handout, pausing to ask if there are any questions after each term, allowing for 1-2 questions as time allows. Give each term 1-2 minutes to review.

Handout activity (5 minutes)

Project Genderbread Person image on the board.

Say: “For the sake of time, we unfortunately won’t be reviewing all the terms on the genderbread person. But, you may notice that many of the terms we had in the matching game fit within these categories of attraction (sexual orientation), gender identity/expression, or (biological) sex.”

Hand out the blank Genderbread Person sheets, as well as the completed sheet as an example.

Say “Now, it is your turn to discover what gender means to you, working on your own genderbread person.”

Students can complete the sheet in class, if there is time, or they can complete it at home. (Each teacher can decide if they want to collect the sheet for a participation/homework “grade” – see Facilitator Concerns for more information)


Wrap up (5 minutes)

Say, “Today you worked to understand some sexuality definitions while discussing with your peers definitions of your own. For some of you this may have involved allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and open to your own sense of identity. Thank you for participating respectfully.”
Ask the class “Before we conclude for the day, I’d like to hear from some of you who are willing to share: How has it felt to think about and discuss these concepts of sexuality and gender today? How might it have impacted your personal experience or understanding of sexuality and/or gender?”

Listen to and validate students’ answers and conclude the class period.

Facilitator Consideration Regarding assigning the Genderbread Person handout as homework: You may or may not want to assign this as homework. Please remember that it might not be safe for students to complete this at home (or at all) because of risks of outing themselves/being outed. It also may not be appropriate for you to read each student’s personal assessment of their own gender/sexuality. If you do decide to collect this, please devise an anonymous way to do so. An example of this includes telling students not to put their name on it and checking off their student ID number on an anonymous list when they turn it in. Perhaps you might want to consider having no penalty for those who don’t turn it in.
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