DEI Glossary of Terms

The topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has become an integral part of essential conversation regarding school improvement.  It is important for those engaged in this conversation to have consistent definitions for vocabulary common to this discourse.  Many of these terms have multiple definitions.  Participants will bring their personal experience into defining and utilizing each term.  This can cause misunderstandings and negatively impact conversations which are most productive when participants are open and honest.  With this in mind, APS is working to build a dynamic glossary of terms for usage when discussing this important topic.  DEI staff, to include school-based coordinators, will continue to work with outer interested constituencies to add and continually evaluate these terms and definitions.  Due to the dynamic nature of the terminology, our list will never be exhaustive.  Our goal for the 2022-23 school year is to build a foundation upon which we can continually build.  Please reach out to us directly if you have questions, at dei@apsva.us

  • AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander)
    • The term encompasses a diverse group of identities, including people with a heritage rooted in all Pacific Islands and all parts of Asia, including South and Southeast Asia. The term Asian American refers to a US citizen or resident of Asian birth or descent.
  • Ableism
    • A form of discrimination against people with disabilities. Ableism can take the form of institutionalized discrimination or personal prejudice and can hinder the lives of disabled people. As an example, government buildings that are inaccessible to someone with mobility problems represent institutionalized ableism. (Study.com)
  • Accessibility
    • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education defines accessibility as meaning “when a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally integrated and equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.”
  • Affinity Bias
    • Affinity bias is an unconscious bias that causes people to gravitate toward others who appear to be like them (including those with similar interests, backgrounds, and appearances).(Master Class)
  • Ageism
    • Ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism affects everyone. Children as young as 4 years old become aware of their culture’s age stereotypes. From that age onwards they internalize and use these stereotypes to guide their feelings and behavior towards people of different ages. They also draw on culture’s age stereotypes to perceive and understand themselves, which can result in self-directed ageism at any age. Ageism intersects and exacerbates other forms of disadvantage including those related to sex, race and disability. (World Health Organization)
  • Ally
    • An ally is a person whose commitment to dismantling oppression is reflected in a willingness to do the following:
      • Educate oneself about oppression;
      • Learn from and listen to people who are targets of oppression;
      • Examine and challenge one’s own prejudices, stereotypes, and assumptions;
      • Work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed;
      • Learn and practice the skills of challenging oppressive remarks, behaviors, policies, and institutional structures;
      • Act collaboratively with members of the target group to dismantle oppression. (Vanderbilt University)
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native
    • A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.(U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Anti-Semitism
    • “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” (U.S. Department of State)
  • Asexual
    • Umbrella term for those to tend not to have a sexual desire towards others; asexuals may experience romantic attractions and engage in sexual behavior. (South Dakota State University)
  • Asian
    • A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.(U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Belonging
    • The feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group.(Cornell University)Culturally Relevant PedagogyPedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. (Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Dream Keepers. 1994)
  • Bias
    • An inclination or predisposition for or against something (American Psychological Association)
  • Biological Sex
    • Category assigned to each of us at birth based on a variety of physical and biological characteristics, usually determined by genitals. (South Dakota State University)
  • BIPoC
    • BIPoC stands for Black, Indigenous and people of color.
  • Biracial
    • Having parents of two different races, and/or involving or including people of two different races. (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • Black of African American
    • A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.(U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Caucasian
    • Of or relating to a group of people having European ancestry, classified according to physical traits (such as light skin pigmentation), and formerly considered to constitute a race of humans (Merriam-Webster)
  • Chicano
    • People of Mexican descent born in the United States
  • Cisgender or “cis”
    • An adjective used to describe people who are not transgender. A cisgender person is a person whose gender identity is aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Classism
    • The institutional, cultural and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign differential value to people according to their socioeconomic class; and an economic system that creates excessive inequality and causes basic human needs to go unmet.(National Conference for Community and Justice)
  • Code-Switching
    • The conscious or unconscious act of altering one’s communication style and/or appearance depending on the specific situation of who one is speaking to, what is being discussed, and the relationship and power and/or community dynamics between those involved. Often members of the non-dominant group code-switch to minimize the impact of bias from the dominant group. (National Association of Counties)
  • Cultural Appropriation
    • The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society. (PBS)
  • Cultural Competency
    • Having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families; the ability to understand the within-group variations that make our country a tapestry. (National Education Association, “Why Cultural Competence?”  August, 27, 2020)
  • Culture
    • The distinctive customs, values, beliefs, knowledge, art, and language of a society or a community. These values and concepts are passed on from generation to generation, and they are the basis for everyday behaviors and practice. (American Psychological Association)
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching
    • “The ability to use the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of culturally and linguistically diverse learners as conduits for teaching them more effectively” (Geneva Gay, University of Washington).
  • Deadnaming
    • Deadnaming occurs when an individual, intentionally or not, refers to the name that a transgender or gender diverse individual used at a different time in their life. Some may prefer the terms birth name, given name, or old name.
  • Disability
    • The physical or mental condition, the perception of a physical or mental impairment or a history of having had a physical or mental impairment that can affect an individual’s life in one or more major life activities.(National Association of Counties)
  • Discrimination
    • Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation. (American Psychological Association)
  • Diversity
    • The representation of different and unique identities, characteristics, experiences and perspectives reflected through, but not limited to: disability, age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, color, armed service, religion, sex
  • Educational Disproportionality
    • When a subgroup’s representation in a particular education category is inequitable compared to their overall enrollment.
  • Educational Equity
    • ​​The identification and implementation of policies and procedures that lead to the just and fair distribution of resources based on individual students and individual school building needs.
  • Equality
    • Providing the same opportunities and resources, regardless of background or circumstances.
  • Equity
    • The unyielding effort to give everyone what they need to succeed by increasing access, resources, and opportunities for all.
  • Ethnicity
    • Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic origin or not. Ethnicity is therefore divided into two mutually exclusive categories: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. Hispanic origin may be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person (or the person’s parents/ancestors) before arriving in the United States. (Missouri Census Data Center)
  • Explicit/Conscious Bias
    • The attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level
  • Feminism
    • The theory and practice that focuses on the advocacy of social, economic and political equality between men, women and all gender identities. (National Association of Counties)
  • Gender
    • Gender is a socially constructed system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. Words that refer to gender include man, woman, transgender, masculine, feminine, and gender queer. Gender also refers to one’s sense of self as masculine or feminine, regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex; however, this is inaccurate, because sex refers to bodies and gender refers to personality characteristics. (Emory University)
  • Gender Expression
    • External manifestations of gender, expressed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, voice, and/or behavior. Societies classify these external cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. (GLAAD)
  • Gender Identity
    • One’s sense of self as male, female, or another gender that may or may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth.
  • Gender Pronouns
    • Gender pronouns (he/she/they/ze etc.) specifically refer to the person you are referring to.Pronouns are part of someone’s gender expression, and people can have multiple sets of pronouns for themselves (such as using he/him/his and they/them/theirs). (University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee)
  • Global Majority
    • Also known as people of the global majority (PGM), a collective term that encourages those of African, Asian, Latin American, and Arab descent to recognize that together they comprise the vast majority (around 80 percent) of people in the world. (Maharaj & Campbell-Stephens, 2021).
  • Heterosexism
    • Prejudice against any non-heterosexual form of behavior, relationship, or community, particularly the denigration of lesbians, gay men, and those who are bisexual or transgender. Whereas homophobia generally refers to an individual’s fear or dread of gay men or lesbians, heterosexism denotes a wider system of beliefs, attitudes, and institutional structures that attach value to heterosexuality and disparage alternative sexual behavior and orientation. (American Psychological Association)
  • Hispanic
    • Hispanic refers to any of the peoples in the Americas and Spain who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking communities. (University of California)
  • Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI)
    • HSI’s have an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students.(US Dept of Education)
  • Historically Black College and University
    • The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans”(US Dept of Education)
  • Historically Underrepresented Groups
    • This term refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans. This is revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits such as education, jobs, and housing, resulting in marginalization for some groups and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are members of the population involved. (Emory University)
  • Homophobia
    • Prejudice or hatred toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, expressed in speech or actions. Intolerance, bias, or prejudice is usually a more accurate description. (GLAAD)
  • Identity
    • An individual’s sense of self, defined by (a) a set of physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that is not wholly shared with any other person and (b) a range of affiliations (e.g., ethnicity) and social roles. Identity involves a sense of continuity, or the feeling that one is the same person today that one was yesterday or last year (despite physical or other changes). (American Psychological Association)
  • Indigenous People
    • A collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants (Government of Canada)
  • Intersectionality
    • The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. (Oxford Dictionary)
  • Implicit/Unconscious Bias
    • Implicit bias is a form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors (National Institute of Health)
  • Inclusion
    • The unyielding effort to create a culture where our unique identities are celebrated, valued, respected and embraced.
  • Individual Racism
    • The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism in conscious and unconscious ways. (Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture)
  • Institutional Racism
    • Institutional racism​ occurs in an organization. These are discriminatory treatments, unfair policies, or biased practices based on race that result in inequitable outcomes for whites over people of color and extend considerably beyond prejudice. These institutional policies often never mention any racial group, but the intent is to create advantages. (Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture)
  • Internalized Racism
    • Acceptance of negative stereotypes about one’s own racial group. (Willis et al, 2021)
  • Interpersonal Racism
    • Interpersonal racism​ occurs between individuals. These are public expressions of racism, often involving slurs, biases, or hateful words or actions.(Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture)
  • Intersex
    • A general term used for a variety of bodies in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit into the sex binary. (South Dakota State University)
  • Islamophobia
    • Islamophobia refers to indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at Islam or Muslims. (University of Oslo, Center for Research on Extremism)
  • Latino/Latina/Latinx
    • The term Latino describes any person with ancestry in Latin America, a politically defined region usually unified by the predominance of Romance languages. This definition usually includes Portuguese-speaking Brazil and French-speaking Haiti, but excludes Spain.(University of California)
  • LGBTQIA+
    • An acronym used to signify Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual people collectively. (South Dakota State University)
  • Marginalization
    • Marginalized populations are groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions. (St. Francis Xavier University)
  • Microaggression
    • An act that denigrates based on a stereotype of the recipient. This can occur due to unconscious or conscious bias. (ActOne Government Solutions)
  • Microinequity
    • A slight that demeans or marginalizes the recipient. This can occur due to unconscious or conscious bias. (ActOne Government Solutions)
  • Misgender
    • When an individual uses a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, which does not correctly reflect their gender.
  • Misogyny
    • Hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Multiracial
    • Involving people of several different races, and/or having parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents of different races. (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • Native Hawaiin/Pacific Islander
    • A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • Neurodiversity
    • The presence of neurological differences that present in the way individuals act, think, hear and communicate. These differences in neurological conditions can include Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autism Spectrum and more.(National Association of Counties)
  • Nonbinary
    • An adjective used by people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the binary gender categories of man and woman. Many nonbinary people also call themselves transgender and consider themselves part of the transgender community. Others do not. Nonbinary is an umbrella term that encompasses many different ways to understand one’s gender. Some nonbinary people may also use words like agender, bigender, demigender, pangender, etc. to describe the specific way in which they are nonbinary. (GLAAD)
  • Oppression
    • The combination of prejudice and institutional power which creates a system that discriminates against some groups (often called “target groups”) and benefits other groups (often called “dominant groups”). Examples of these systems are racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, ageism, and anti-Semitism. These systems enable dominant groups to exert control over target groups by limiting their rights, freedom, and access to basic resources such as health care, education, employment, and housing.(Vanderbilt University)
  • Pansexual/Omnisexual
    • Terms used to describe people who have romantic, sexual or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes.
  • People of Color
    • A collective term for individuals of Asian, African, Latinx and Native American backgrounds with the common experience of being targeted and oppressed by racism. (National Association of Counties)
  • Predominantly White Institution (PWI)
    • An institution of higher learning in which 50% or more of their students enrolled are White, or any institution that has historically had a majority enrollment of white students and is conducive to white cultural norms.
  • Prejudice
    • A negative assumption or prejudgment about members of a specific group. (Verywell Mind)
  • Privilege
    • Privilege operates on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives advantages, favors, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups.StereotypeA set of cognitive generalizations (e.g., beliefs, expectations) about the qualities and characteristics of the members of a group or social category. Stereotypes simplify and expedite perceptions and judgments, but they are often exaggerated, negative rather than positive, and resistant to revision even when perceivers encounter individuals with qualities that are not congruent with the stereotype. (American Psychological Association)
  • Queer
    • Reclaimed derogatory slang by many who reject gender and sexual binaries. Also used as a political identity by many who want to dismantle oppressive systems in society. (South Dakota State University)
  • Race
    • Race is a person’s self-identification with one or more social groups. On census surveys, an individual can report as White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, or some other race. Additionally, respondents may report multiple races. (Missouri Census Data Center)
  • Racism
    • A form of prejudice that assumes that the members of racial categories have distinctive characteristics and that these differences result in some racial groups being inferior to others. Racism generally includes negative emotional reactions to members of the group, acceptance of negative stereotypes, and racial discrimination against individuals; in some cases it leads to violence. (American Psychological Association)
  • Religious Oppression
    • Oppression against individuals or groups based on their religious beliefs and practices. (Suffolk University Boston)
  • Sexism
    • Discriminatory and prejudicial beliefs and practices directed against one of the two sexes, usually women. Sexism is associated with acceptance of sex-role stereotypes and can occur at multiple levels: individual, organizational, institutional, and cultural. It may be overt, involving the open endorsement of sexist beliefs or attitudes; covert, involving the tendency to hide sexist beliefs or attitudes and reveal them only when it is believed that one will not suffer publicly for them; or subtle, involving unequal treatment that may not be noticed because it is part of everyday behavior or perceived to be unimportant.
  • Sexual Orientation
    • The scientifically accurate term for a person’s enduring physical, romantic and/ or emotional attraction to another person. Sexual orientations can include heterosexual (straight), lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and other orientations. (GLAAD)
  • Social Capital
    • Resources based on group membership, relationships, networks of influence and support. (National Conference for Community and Justice)
  • Social Justice
    • Social justice is a communal effort dedicated to creating and sustaining a fair and equal society in which each person and all groups are valued and affirmed. It encompasses efforts to end systemic violence and racism and all systems that devalue the dignity and humanity of any person. It recognizes that the legacy of past injustices remains all around us, so therefore promotes efforts to empower individual and communal action in support of restorative justice and the full implementation of human and civil rights.(John Lewis Institute of Social Justice, Central Connecticut State University)
  • Transgender or Gender Diverse
    • Terms used to describe individuals whose gender identity, expression, or behavior does not conform with that typically associated with male/female.
  • Transgender Boy/Man
    • A boy/man who was assigned female at birth may use this term to describe himself. (GLAAD)
  • Transgender Girl/Woman
    • A girl/woman who was assigned male at birth may use this term to describe herself. (GLAAD)
  • Transition
    • Transition is the process a person undertakes to bring their gender expression and/or their body into alignment with their gender identity. It is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time and the exact steps involved in transition will vary from person to person. Transition can include:
      • Social transition – Telling family, friends, and co-workers, using a different name, using different pronouns, dressing differently, starting or stopping wearing make-up and jewelry, etc.
      • Legal transition – Changing your name and/or sex marker on documents like a driver’s license, passport, Social Security record, bank accounts, etc.
      • Medical transition – Hormone replacement therapy and/or one or more surgical procedures. (GLAAD)
  • Transphobia
    • The fear or hatred of transgender people or people who do not meet society’s gender role expectations. (University of California San Francisco)
  • White
    • A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.(U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Xenophobia
    • A fear of foreigners or strangers. (ActOne Government Solutions)