*Additional definitions provided by Fahima Haque, in consultation with Raechele Pope, a professor and expert on multicultural education.
Access All members of the school community have entrance into, involvement with, and full participation of resources, conversations, initiative, and choices which are attentive to heritage and community practices (Paris 2012).
Advocate a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for underrepresented groups.
Agender a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender-neutral, or genderless.
Ally people who belong to underrepresented groups - whether based on their race, ethnicity, gender, ability or other identity - have been fighting discrimination and prejudice for a long time. Others who do not belong to those groups but who stand up for those who do are called allies. They use their positions of privilege to ensure that people from underrepresented groups are heard and supported.
Androgyny a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity. Occasionally used in place of ‘intersex’ to describe a person with both female and male anatomy.
Anti-Racist someone who is supporting antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression or ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequality.
Asexual experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior.
Asian Pacific American or Asian Pacific Islander people whose families originally came to the United States from East and Southeast Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent. East Asian countries include Japan, China, South and North Korea, Taiwan, and others, while Southeast Asia includes countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The Indian subcontinent includes countries such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Add the Pacific Islander component - which includes Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Island, and Marshall Island.
Bias this is a tendency to take a side for or against something based on a belief you already had, or a prejudice. “It interferes with us making a fair judgment,” says Raechele Pope, a professor and expert on multicultural education. But bias isn’t always obvious - you might not even know you have a bias, or why. “It’s really hidden some times,” she says. This type of bias is called “unconscious bias.”
BIPOC Black, Indigenious, and People of Color. Is meant to unite all people of color in the work of liberation while intentionally acknowledging that not all People Of Color face the same levels of injustice.
Bicurious a curiosity toward experiencing attraction to people of same-gender/sex.
Bigender a person who fluctuates between traditionally ‘woman’ and ‘man’ gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with two genders (or sometimes identifying with either man or woman, as well as third, different gender).
Biological Sex A medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”
Biphobia a range of negative attitudes (fear, anger, intolerance, invisibility, resentment, or discomfort) that one may have or express toward bisexual individuals.
Bisexual a person who experiences attraction to some men and women or their gender and another gender. Bisexual attraction does not have to be equally split.
Campus Climate The cumulative and continuing perception of the context in which the current attitudes, behaviors, and standards of faculty, staff, administrators, and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential are felt.
Cisgender person A person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”
Cisnormativity the assumption, in individuals and institutions that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior. Cisnormativity leads to the invisibility of non-cis identities.
Cissexism behavior that grants prefernetial treatment to cisgender people, reinforces the idea that being cisgender is somehow better or ‘right’ - and leads to cisnormativity.
Closeted an individual who is not out themselves or others about their sexuality or gender identity. Being closeted is a choice and/or for reasons such as discrimination (discrimination is not illegal in 25 of or the United States as well as ‘persecution’ as homosexual ‘activity’ is still illegal and punishable by imporsionment and death in some countries - that are in the UN-) fear for one’s own safety, peer rejection, disapproval, or family rejection.
Coming Out the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity. Coming out is also the process by which one shares their sexuality or gender identity with others.
Colonization The process by which a central system of power dominates the surrounding land and its components, establishing control over the indigenous people of an area through violence.
Colorism when a person is discriminated against because they have darker skin, compared with someone of the same race who has lighter skin, that’s called colorism. This can also occur among people of the same ethnicity. Colorism also results in people with lighter skin having more privileges than those with darker skin.
Contextual Factors related to the underlying beliefs, policy, patterns of practice, traditions and norms.
Critical Factors related to underlying beliefs, norms and practices enacting power dynamics that marginalized specific groups, privilege others, and prevent equitable practices.
Culture think about the things that you and your community might share: language, arts, food, values. Those things are all part of your culture, which is a set of customs, norms and beliefs shared by people of the same ethnic religious or other social group. Your culture shapes the way you see and interact with the world.
Cultural Appropriation theft of cultural elements for one’s own use or profit often without understanding, acknowledgment, or respect for its value in the culture of origin. Results from the assumption of a dominant culture’s right to take the other culture’s elements.
Cultural Competence Policies and practices of an organization, or the values and behaviors of an individual, that foster effective cross-cultural communication. It is a point on a continuum that ranges from cultural destructiveness to cultural proficiency. A culturally competent organization values the people who work there understands the community in which it operates, and embraces its clients as valuable members of that community. This means that the culture of the organization promotes inclusiveness and institutionalizes the process of learning about differences. Cultural competence suggests a willingness to expand the organization’s paradigm for culture. Members of an organization with cultural competence as a goal examine their own cultures to understand how they, as cultural entities, impact the perception and interaction of those who are different. This means identifying the dynamics of difference caused by historical distrust. Clearly understanding who we are and accepting how others perceive us is one of the first steps towards cultural competence. The next step is the same underlying, non-defensive examination of the organization’s culture.
Culturally Relevant/Responsible Recognizing, understanding, and applying attitudes and practices that are sensitive to and appropriate for people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
Diversity is who we are. It is the acknowledgement and recognition of the myriad of ways we exist, identify, and show up in our community and in the world.
Dominant Culture The dominant culture is a culture that is the most powerful, widespread, or influential with a social or political entity in which multiple cultures are present. In a society [the dominant culture] refers to the established language, religion, values, rituals, and social customs. These traits are often [seen as] the norm for the society.
Educational Equity Equity in education is when school policies, practices, interactions, cultures, and resources, are representative of, constructed by, and responsive to all students such that each student has access to, can meaningfully participate, and make progress in high-quality learning experiences, resulting in positive outcomes regardless of her or his race, SES, gender, ability, religion affiliation, national origin, linguistic diversity , or other characteristics (Fraiser, 2001; Great Lakes Equity Ctr, 2011).
Equity is ensuring that all students and community members have what they need to fully participate in school life and reach their greatest potential.
Ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities, such as common ancestral, language, social, cultural or national experiences. Examples of ethnic identities are Finnish, Ethiopian, Cambodian, Mexican, etc.
First Generation An individual, neither of whose parents completed a baccalaureate degree.
Gay experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender.
Gender Binary the idea that there are only two genders that every person is one of those two.
Gender Expression The external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
Gender Identity One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Gender Non-Conforming a gender descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender expression or identity.
Genderfluid a gender identity or label often used by people whose sense of self in relation to gender changes form time-to-time.
Genderqueer Someone who identifies as genderqueer does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
Heteronormativity the assumption that in individuals and/or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to other sexualities. Heteronormativity leads to invisibility, stigmatizing of other sexualities, and the assumption that only masculine men and feminine women are straight.
Heterosexism behavior that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more ‘right’ than queerness, and/or makes other sexualities invisible.
Heterosexual/Straight primarily, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to some members of a different gender.
Homophobia an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes (fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have toward LGBTQ people.
Homosexual a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender.
Intersectionality describes the ways that different aspects of our identities - race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, ability - come together to produce different experiences, especially when it comes to discrimination. In 1989, Kimberle Crenshaw, the law professor who is credited with coming up with the word, used the example that Black women are discriminated against on the basis of their race, their gender - and a combination of both.
Intersex term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from two expected patterns of male or female.
Implicit Bias The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. The biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individuals’ awareness.
Inclusivity is taking every individual’s experience and identity into account in striving to create an environment in which all are seen, heard, supported and helped to feel safe. The ultimate outcome and goal of inclusion work is that every community member has a sense of belonging.
(Inter) Cultural Competence An ability to learn about and interact effectively with people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This competence comprises four components: (1) awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, (2) attitude towards cultural differences, (3) knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (4) cross-cultural skills.
Indigenous refers to groups of people defined in government documents as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations, including those that are politically and socially dominant.
Latinx you might be familiar with the words “Latino” and “Latina,” which refer generally to people from Spanish-speaking countries. But these days, you’ll also find its gender-neutral variation, Latinx (pronounced Latin-ex). The x is an effort to make the word more inclusive, because it accounts for a wider spectrum of gender identities than just male and female.
Learning Communities A group of people actively engaged in learning together, from each other, and by habituation. Learning Communities often consist of two courses linked together to explore common themes and encourage partnerships with professors and peers.
Lesbian women who are primarily attracted romantically or emotionally to other women.
Microaggression the word microaggression was first used by Chester M Pierce, a professor at Harvard University, in the 1070s to refer to interactions between white people and Black people. They’re usually subtle insults revealing stereotypical assumptions - for example, assuming that someone who is not white doesn’t speak English. “They seem little, but the accumulated effect is really powerful,” Pope says. And whether they’re intentional or not, the impact is the same: “They communicate hostility or negativity.”
Outing involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
Power the ability to decide who will have access to resources; the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others, oneself, and/or the course of events.
Prejudice “Everybody has prejudices,” says Pope. These are opinions (often negative) about people or groups of people that aren’t based on actual experiences - instead, they’re frequently rooted in stereotypes.
Privilege the civil rights activist W.E.B.DuBois was among the first people to describe the effects of privilege: when a person lives with certain advantages based on an aspect of their identity such as skin color, gender or sexuality. If you have privilege you might not even be aware of it. For example, you’ve probably heard the term “white privilege” - white people are more likely to get job interviews, loans and even access to better schools than their nonwhite peers.
Pronouns A pronoun is a word that refers to someone or something that is being talked about (like she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (like he and hers) specifically refer to people that you are talking about. You can’t always know what pronoun (she/her, he/him, they/theirs) someone uses by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone’s personal pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity.
Questioning an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity
Race A Social construction invented and perpetuated by society used to sort and categorize people based on phenotype or observable characteristics or traits. Per the US Census
Racial Identity Racial identity, commonly defined as the significance and meaning of race and ethnicity to one’s self-concept (Phinney, 1996; Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998). An individual’s racial identity is a sense of belonging to a community of people who share a similar, specific heritage.
Racism Economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematic and perpetuate and unequal distribution of privileges, resources, and power between white people and people of color (Hilliard, 1992).
Recognize Awareness and valuing of racial and ethnic differences as reflected in perspectives, practices, curricula, school cultures, and climate (Kozleski & Waitoller, 2010).
Redistribute Resources, information and power are allocated to ensure that historically marginalized students and their parents/caregivers have access to and participate in decision-making and quality learning opportunities (Kozleski & Waitoller, 2010).
Redress Inequities and marginalizing policies and practices in classrooms, schools or districts are compensated for (Kozleski & Waitoller, 2010)
Reflect Think about race in relationship to policy, practices and learning opportunities (Kozleski & Waitoller, 2010).
Representation Having a presence in educational decision making and in learning material (Mulligan & Kozleski, 2009; Chen et al, 2014).
Self-Awareness The recognition of one’s social identities and the ways in which those identities interact to shape a sense of self and experience (Diane J. Goodman).
Self-Examination Excavating how one's identities inform their understandings of experiences with complex social problems (Tania D. Mitchell).
Sexual Orientation An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
Transgender a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another.
Transphobia The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans people, the trans community, or gender ambiguity.
Underrepresented Any individuals who are historically underrepresented in American higher education in terms of: race/ethnicity/nationality, gender, parental education level, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, or spirituality/religiosity/philosophy.
White Supremacy The conscious or unconscious belief that white people are superior and therefore should be central in society (DiAngelo, 2016).
Whiteness A set of norms or social locations that are historically, socially, politically and culturally produced, and which are intrinsically linked to the privilege and dominance associated with white racial identity (DiAngelo, 2016; Chiariello, 2016). However, because of this dominance, whiteness is not recognized as a racial identity but as normal or natural.