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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Glossary of Terms

Ableism |  A belief or set of discriminatory actions against individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities or psychiatric disorders.

Accessibility |  The intentional design or redesign of physical spaces, technology, policies, system, entity products, and services etc. that increase one's ability to use, access, and obtain the respective element.

deaf | Hearing loss is severe and there is little or no functional hearing

Deaf (Community) | Many people who are deaf are a part of a Deaf community. While deaf using a lowercase d refers to the loss of hearing, Deaf with a capital D refers to this group of people. In this community they share a common language (American Sign Language), experiences and values. They also may attend schools for the deaf and have a shared heritage, history, literature and culture.

Deafened | An individual becomes deaf as an adult and has different challenges than a person who is deaf from birth or as a child.

Hard of Hearing | There may be enough residual hearing that an auditory device will aid.

Legally Blind | People that have less than 20/200 vision in the better eye or a limited field that is 20 degrees or less at its widest point.

Light Perception and Light Projection | These terms describe a person who may have severely reduced vision but is still able to perceive the difference between light or dark.

Low Vision | A loss of visual acuity while retaining some vision. This cannot be corrected with corrective lenses, medicine or surgery.

Neurodiversity | The idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.

Partially Sighted | Usually used in educational context to describe a visual impairment that requires special education services.

Total Blindness | This is the individual who has complete lack of light perception and form perception.

Androgynous | Having physical elements of both femininity and masculinity, whether expressed through sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. 

Aromantic (Aro) | the term refers to an individual who does not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people exist on a spectrum of romantic attraction and can use terms such as gray aromantic or grayromantic to describe their place within that spectrum. Aromantic people can experience sexual attraction.

Asexual (Ace) | Used to describe people who experience little to no sexual attraction. Many asexual people desire romantic relationships, and
romantic orientations are a way for aces to communicate who they prefer to date or form relationships with

Binary System | A binary system is something made up of two opposing parts. Gender (man/woman) and sex (male/female) are examples of
binary systems.

Biphobia | The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, people who love and are sexually attracted to more than one gender.

Bisexual (Bi) | A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual.

Cisgender | Used to describe people whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Coming Out | The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others.

Demiromantic | Used to describe an individual who experiences romantic attraction only after forming an emotional connection.

Demisexual | Used to describe an individual who experiences sexual attraction only after forming an emotional connection.

Drag | The theatrical performance of one or multiple genders (often including makeup, costume, dance, lip-syncing, and temporary body modifications). Performers who present in a feminine manner are called Drag Queens, while performers who present in a masculine manner are called Drag Kings. These performances often push traditional boundaries of gender presentation, calling into question societally defined gender roles.

Gay | A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

Gender | An idea created by society (AKA a social construct) that tells us what certain genders are "supposed" to be like, based on a group of
emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics (like how we express our feelings or how we dress).

Gender Expression | The way in which we present ourselves, which can include physical appearance, clothing, hairstyles, and behavior.

Gender-fluid | A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.

Gender non-conforming | A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. 

Genderqueer | Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as "genderqueer" may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.

Heteronormativity | The assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities. This includes the often implicitly held idea that heterosexuality is the norm and that other sexualities are “different” or “abnormal.”

Homophobia | The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.

Intersex | Used to describe people who are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex
hormones, or genitals that can't be classified as typically male or female.

Lesbian | A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

LGBTQIA+ | An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic/agender” with a "+" sign to recognize the limitless sexual orientations and gender identities used by members of the community.

Misgender | To refer to someone using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, which does not correctly reflect their gender. This may be unintentional and without ill intent or can be a maliciously employed expression of bias. Regardless of intent, misgendering has a harmful impact.

Monogamous |  A term referring to individuals who are intimate or involved romantically with one person at a time. 

Nonbinary | An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.

Pansexual | Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual.

Polyamorous | A term used to describe people who have the desire for multiple consenting intimate relationships at the same time. Also referred to as “ethically non-monogamous,” “polya” or “polyam;” there is a movement away from shortening polyamorous to “poly” since poly already means Polynesian. Consent and transparency are key components of polyamorous relationships.

Pride Month |  Celebrated annually the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender (LGBTQIA+) Americans.

Pronouns | The words used to refer to a person other than their name. Common pronouns are they/them, he/him, and she/her. Neopronouns are pronouns created to be specifically gender-neutral including xe/xem, ze/zir and fae/faer.

Queer | An umbrella term used to refer to an identity that expands outside of heterosexuality. Due to its history as a reclaimed slur and use in political movements, queer still holds political significance. This term is to only be used by members of the community.

Questioning | A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Same-gender loving | A term some prefer to use instead of lesbian, gay or bisexual to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender.

Sex assigned at birth | The sex, male, female or intersex, that a doctor or midwife uses to describe a child at birth based on their external anatomy.

Sexual orientation | An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.

Transgender | An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Transphobia | Animosity, hatred, or dislike of trans and gender-expansive people that often manifests itself in the form of prejudice and bias. Transphobia often stems from lack of knowledge about transgender people and the issues they face.

Transitioning | A series of processes that some transgender people may undergo in order to live more fully as their true gender. This typically includes social transition, such as changing name and pronouns, medical transition, which may include hormone therapy or gender affirming surgeries, and legal transition, which may include changing legal name and sex on government identity documents. Transgender people may choose to undergo some, all or none of these processes.

Two Spirit | An umbrella term for a wide range of non-binary culturally recognized gender identities and expressions among Indigenous people. A Native American term for individuals who identify both as male and female. In western culture, these individuals are identified as lesbian, gay, bi‐sexual or trans-gendered. This term is to only be used by Native populations

Afro-Latinx | Individuals of Latin America or of Latin American descent who are also of African ancestry.

Anti-Black Racism | Any attitude, behavior, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that Black people are inferior to another racial group. Anti-Black racism is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels of racism and is a function of White supremacy.

Anti‐Semitism | The fear or hatred of Jews, Judaism, and related symbols.

Anti-Racism | Active process of identifying and challenging racism, by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices, and attitudes, to redistribute power in an equitable manner.

BIPOC | Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Term commonly used to describe individuals who are not considered white. 

Black Lives Matter (Concept) | The ideology that seeks to affirm and assert the value of Black lives, seeking equal treatment and justice for Black people, not to the exclusion of such for people of other races, but in response to the systematic absence or denial of equal treatment and justice for Black people across institutions and policies.

Black Lives Matter (Movement) | February 2012, George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager. In the aftermath of this development, Black organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” to mobilize and organize over the violence, oppression, and racism Black people face.

Blood Quantum | The amount of Native blood one posses as determined by the number of generations of Native people you descend from. It is a controversial and potentially harmful process that the federal government uses to determine whether they consider someone as 'Native American.'

Chicano/a/x | A term for Mexican Americans popularized by activists during the 1960’s and ’70’s civil rights movement. It was meant to reflect Mexican Americans’ dual heritage and mixed culture, their presence for centuries in the United States, and their right to be American citizens.

Colorism | Using White skin color as the standard, colorism is the allocation of privilege and favor to lighter skin colors and disadvantage to darker skin colors. Colorism operates both within and across racial and ethnic groups

Color Blind | The belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based on the presumption that differences are by definition bad or problematic, and therefore best ignored (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, etc.”).

Culture | Culture is the pattern of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing.

Cultural Appropriation | The adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It is generally applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to appropriating culture.

Decolonization | Process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. Decolonization in an Indigenous context is about “cultural, psychological, and economic freedom” for Indigenous people with the goal of achieving Indigenous sovereignty — the right and ability of Indigenous people to practice self-determination over their land, cultures, and political and economic systems.

Discrimination | The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, religion, citizenship status, a combination of those identified, and/or other categories. See Racism.

Dominant Group | Not necessarily the majority, but the group within a society with the power, privilege, and social status to control and define societal resources and social, political, and economic systems and norms.

Ethnicity | Denotes groups that share a common identity-based ancestry, language, or culture. It is often based on religion, beliefs, and customs as well as memories of migration or colonization.

Euro-Centric | The inclination to consider European culture as normative. While the term does not imply an attitude of superiority (since all cultural groups have the initial right to understand their own culture as normative), most use the term with a clear awareness of the historic oppressiveness of Eurocentric tendencies in U.S and European society.

Individual/Personal Racism | An internalized bias that takes place when a person’s beliefs, attitudes, fears, behaviors, and actions are both based on and driven by racial biases/prejudices. Individual/personal racism are the conscious and unconscious beliefs we have that Whiteness is superior.

Institutional/Systemic Racism | The practices that perpetuate racial disparities, uphold White supremacy, and serve to the detriment and harm of persons of color and keep them in negative cycles. Institutional/systemic racism also refers to policies that generate different outcomes for persons of different race. These laws, policies, and practices are not necessarily explicit in mentioning any racial group, but work to create advantages for White persons and disadvantages for people of color.

Internalized Racism | The conscious and unconscious development of ideas, beliefs, actions, and behaviors that demonstrate one’s acceptance of the dominant society’s racist tropes and stereotypes about their own race. Internalized racism is the simultaneous hating of oneself and/or one’s own race and valuing of the dominant race. Internalized racism is an individual’s system of oppression in response to any and all forms of racism.

First Nation People | Individuals who identify as those who were the first people to live on the Western Hemisphere continent. People also identified as Native Americans.

Hate Crime | Hate crime legislation often defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

Hispanic |  A catch-all ethnic label describing people in the United States who are either themselves from a Spanish-speaking country or whose ancestors were from a Spanish-speaking country. The term “Hispanic” is an ethnic label, not a race of people.

Hispanic Heritage Month  |  Observed in the United States from September 15 to October 15.

Indigenous People | Individuals of specific cultural groups who live within (or are attached to) distinct traditional territories. 

Latinx/a/o | An inclusive, gender-neutral term--sometimes used in place of the gendered, binary terms Latino or Latina--used as an umbrella ethnic term describing people in the United States who are either themselves from a Spanish-speaking country or whose ancestors were from a Spanish-speaking country.

Latine | a gender-neutral form of the word Latino, created by gender non-binary and feminist communities in Spanish-speaking countries.

Marginalization | The process that occurs when members of a dominant group relegate a particular group to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place for the purpose of maintaining power.

Mexican American  U.S. citizen of Mexican descent. No hyphen. (In English, hyphenate if use as adjective.)

Micro-Aggressions | Commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory racial slights.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) | It’s a movement that advocates for the end of violence against Native women. It also seeks to draw attention to the high rates of disappearances and murders of Native people, particularly women and girls.

Oppression | A system of supremacy and discrimination for the benefit of a limited dominant class that perpetuates itself through differential treatment, ideological domination, and institutional control. Oppression reflects the inequitable distribution of current and historical structural and institutional power, where a socially constructed binary of a “dominant group” horde power, wealth, and resources at the detriment of the many. This creates a lack of access, opportunity, safety, security, and resources for non-dominant populations.

People of Color (POC) | Political or social (not biological) identity among and across groups of people that are racialized as non-White. The term “People of color” is used to acknowledge that many races experience racism in the U.S, and the term includes, but is not synonymous with, Black people.

Prejudice | A preconceived opinion or assumption about something or someone rooted in stereotypes, rather than reason or fact, leading to unfavorable bias or hostility toward another person or group of people. Literally a “pre-judgement.”

Privilege | Unearned access to resources (social power) only readily available to some individuals as a result of their social group.

Race | A social and political construction—with no inherent genetic or biological basis—used by social institutions to arbitrarily categorize and divide groups of individuals based on physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestry, cultural history, and ethnic classification. The concept has been, and still is, used to justify the domination, exploitation, and violence against people who are racialized as non-White (see also: Racism).

Racism | The systematic subjugation of members of targeted racial groups, who hold less socio-political power and/or are racialized as non-White, as means to uphold White supremacy. Racism differs from prejudice, hatred, or discrimination because it requires one racial group to have systematic power and superiority over other groups in society. Often, racism is supported and maintained, both implicitly and explicitly, by institutional structures and policies, cultural norms and values, and individual behaviors.

Stereotype | Exaggerated or distorted beliefs about the characteristics, attributes, and behaviors of individuals and communities that categorize individuals and communities into singular, pejorative terms.

Token-ism | Hiring or seeking to have representation such as a few women and/or racial or ethnic minority persons so as to appear inclusive while remaining mono-cultural.

Two Spirit | An umbrella term for a wide range of non-binary culturally recognized gender identities and expressions among Indigenous people. A Native American term for individuals who identify both as male and female. In western culture, these individuals are identified as lesbian, gay, bi‐sexual or trans-gendered. This term is to only be used by Native populations

White Fragility | A range of defensive (and centering) emotions and behaviors that White people exhibit when confronted with uncomfortable truths about race. This may include outward displays of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate White racial equilibrium.

White Privilege | The unearned power and advantages that benefit people just by virtue of being White or being perceived as White. See: White Fragility; White Supremacy.

White Supremacy | An institutionally perpetuated and ever-evolving system of exploitation and domination that consolidates and maintains power and resources among White people. This system promotes the ideology of Whiteness as the standard and the belief that White people are superior to other races.

Xenophobia | Any attitude, behavior, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that immigrants are inferior to the dominant group of people. Xenophobia is reflected in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels oppression and is a function of White supremacy.

Atheist | A person who does not believe in the existence of a god, any deities, or any gods. Also defined as the lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not a belief system nor a religion. 

Agnostic | A person who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of a higher power such as a god. Agnosticism is more of a philosophical belief rather than a religious system. 

Bahá'ís | A person of Baháʼí Faith that believes in a unifying vision of humanity and that God is transcendent and can't be known directly. People of this Faith work to improve their own lives and contribute to the advancement of civilization.

Buddhists | A person who believes that the human life is one of suffering, and that meditation, spiritual and physical labor, and good behavior are the ways to achieve enlightenment, or nirvana. Buddhism originated in India as a religion or philosophical belief based on teachings by Gautama Buddha.

Chinese folk-religion | Other terms include Shenjiao and folk Daoism, is an unorganized traditional practices of Chinese religious culture from centuries ago. While this is a very diverse religion full of intricate traditions, the gods tend to all be involved in everyday life either as givers of blessings or bringers of calamities.

Christians | A person who believe in Jesus Christ as a religious figurehead and follow his teachings. Christianity is a monotheistic religion. 

Confucianists | A person who follows Confucianism. Confucianism is a western term for a philosophy and belief system from ancient China. It incorporates social ethic, a political ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life.

Daoists | A person who who follow Daoism or Taoism. Daoism is a philosophical belief system and religion originating in ancient China. This belief follows that humans and animals should live in balance with Tao, or the universe. 

Ethnoreligionists | A broad term for people who follow a religious belief that is linked with ancestral ethnicity. These religions also tend to have very strong cultural practices as well. 

Hindus | A person who follows Hinduism religiously, ethnically, or culturally. Hinduism is a religion and way of life (dharma) that originated in India. Some main beliefs are in the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation (samsara) and the universal law of cause and effect (karma.)

Jains | A person who follows Jainism. Jainism is a religion originating in India many centuries ago. Some main beliefs include living a life of renunciation and caring for every being in the universe. 

Jewish | A person who follows Judaism  religiously, ethnically, or culturally. Judaism follows the main belief that their is one God that has established a covenant with them. This is a monotheistic religion. 

Muslims | A person who follows and adhere to Islam. Islam has the main belief of there being one God and that Muhammad is a prophet and messenger of God. Islam is a monotheistic religion. 

New Religionists | People who are a part of the New Religious Movement. The New Religious Movement is a very broad term to describe the numerous religious groups that have formed in the last century. These groups are very diverse and many arose from problems in the modern world, but some draw ties to ancient beliefs. 

Shintoists | A person who follows the Shinto religion. Shinto originated in ancient Japan, and is thought to be the indigenous religion of Japan. The main beliefs stem from honoring ancestors, nature, and a scared power (kami). 

Sikhs | A person who follows Sikhism. Sikhism originated in the Punjab area of Indian. The main belief is that there is one God who protects and that followers must live a truthful life and that people are equal under God. This is a monotheistic religion. 

Spiritists | A person who believe in or follows spiritualism. Spiritualism is a broad term to describe a concept that many cultures believe and practice. The main factor of this belief is that spirits of people who have passed away can communicate with the living.

Zoroastrians | A person who follows the religion of Zoroastrianism which originated in ancient Persia. Zoroastrianism believe in one God, called Ahura Mazda. The main belief follow the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster and view god as omnipresent. This is a monotheistic religion. 

Classism | Differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It’s the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.

Class Models (hierarchies of power and privilege) | Social class-based conceptualizations of SES view inequalities as a form of social and political power that allows some groups to succeed at the expense of other groups. These inequalities also serve to reinforce privilege, wealth and power. Research in this area examines how institutions, policies, networks and communities create and maintain socioeconomic inequities, as well as how dominant cultural beliefs justify these inequities. Focusing on social class also shifts the focus away from individual attitudes and behaviors, and instead attends to structural and institutional factors reinforcing prejudice and discrimination.

First-Generation Students | Students who are the first in their family to attend college.

Generational Wealth | Refers to assets passed by one generation of a family to another. Those assets can include stocks, bonds, and other investments, as well as real estate and family businesses. The U.S. wealth structure is extremely unequal and marked by very large racial gaps

Gradient Approaches (relative status and inequality) | Gradient approaches view socioeconomic status as a continuous variable, where an individual or group can be compared to others. Allowing for comparison is important, as differences in socioeconomic status are related to improved or worsened health.

Material Conditions | The physical elements surrounding a person that play a part in determining Socioeconomic Status or class. E.g., housing, clothing, wealth.

Redistribution of Wealth | The transfer of income, property, or wealth from one individual or group to another individual or group.

Socioeconomic Status (SES) | A way of describing people based on their education, income, and type of job. People with a lower socioeconomic status usually have less access to financial, educational, social, and health resources than those with a higher socioeconomic status.

Structural Conditions | Things that can be objectively measured and that contribute to social inequality on a large scale. E.g. Laws, public policy, dominant values.

Bodily Autonomy | the right to self-governance over one’s own body without external influence or coercion. 

Gender | is often defined as a social construct of norms, behaviors and roles that varies between societies and over time. Gender is often categorized as male, female or non-binary. 

Gender Identity |  is one's own internal sense of self and their gender, whether that is man, woman, neither or both. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not outwardly visible to others. 

Gender Expression | is how a person presents gender outwardly, through behavior, clothing, hair, voice or other perceived characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine or feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. 

“Me Too” Movement | A movement to address sexual violence. Started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, it became widespread following the exposure of the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein

Misogyny | Hatred, aversion or prejudice against women. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.

Misogynoir | An extreme form of sexism rooted in racism. The term describes contempt for or ingrained prejudice toward Black women. The unique oppression experienced by Black women due to the intersectionality of gender, race, class and sexual orientation combined with discrimination. Misogynoir utilizes and reinforces stereotypes of Black women.

Patriarchy | Actions and beliefs that prioritize men in systems and positions of power and social society and privilege. Patriarchy may be practiced systemically in the ways and methods through which power is distributed in society or it may simply influence how individuals interact with one another interpersonally.

Sex | refers to a person's biological status and is typically assigned at birth, usually on the basis of external anatomy. Sex is typically categorized as male, female or intersex. 

Sexual Orientation | refers to the enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders.