Terms Essential to Our Core Values
Affirmed Gender: A classification based on an individual’s gender identity, which may be different/separate from assigned birth sex.
Ally: Someone who supports a group other than one’s own (in terms of multiple identities such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.). An ally acknowledges oppression and actively commits to reducing their own complicity, investing in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.
Anti-Racism: The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.
Assigned Birth Sex: A classification based on reproductive anatomy and physiology.
Bias: A form of prejudice that results from our tendency and needs to classify individuals into categories.
Bigot: A person who is obstinately devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices and intolerant towards other diverse social groups.
BIPoC: An acronym used to refer to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. It is based on the recognition of collective experiences of systemic racism. As with any other identity term, it is up to individuals to use this term as an identifier.
Cisgender: A term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior aligns with those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.
Color Blind: The belief that everyone should be treated “equally” without respect to societal, economic, historical, racial or other difference. No differences are seen or acknowledged; everyone is the same.
Continuum of Gender: A way of describing more than two genders.
Continuum of Masculinities/Femininities: A way of describing more than two discrete forms of gender expression.
Cultural Appropriation: The non-consensual/misappropriation use of cultural elements for commodification or profit purposes – including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgment, or respect for its value in the original culture.
Decolonize: The active and intentional process of unlearning values, beliefs, and conceptions that have caused physical, emotional, or mental harm to people through colonization. It requires a recognition of systems of oppression.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice: A method of teaching that incorporates knowledge of child development, identified strengths and needs of the specific children being taught, and the cultural backgrounds of each student.
Disability: Physical or mental impairment that affects a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Diversity: Socially, it refers to the wide range of identities. A broad includes race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, veteran status, physical appearance, etc. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, which favor one group over others on differences of race, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, language, age, national identity, religion, and other categories.
Equity: The fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist in the provision of adequate opportunities to all groups.
Gender: 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. Gender is not the same as biological sex, though the two are often conflated with each other.
Gender Expression: The way people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyle, voice, etc.
Gender Identity: Distinct from the term “sexual orientation,” refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.
Gender Identity Development: A process of determining and consolidating one’s gender identity, manifest first in toddlerhood, continuing through adulthood. Actual development of GI likely begins prior to toddlerhood.
Gender Identity Instruction: The conscious and unconscious ways that teachers, parents, media teach children the “right” way to “be” a particular gender.
Gender Non-Conforming: An individual whose gender expression is different from societal expectations related to gender.
Gender Roles: The set of roles and behaviors assigned to females and males by a given society.
Gender Variant: A more contemporary term to describe those whose gender identity or expression differ from cultural expectations based on biological sex; it is increasingly applied to gender nonconforming children who may or may not develop a transgender identity. Gender variance does not indicate pathology.
Harassment: The use of comments or actions that can be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning, and unwelcome.
Heteronormativity: The binary view of gender and sexuality that assumes and privileges heterosexuality in individuals, couples and families, and supports traditional masculine and feminine gender roles and expression. It is the cultural and social “management” of gender and sexuality and is promoted and maintained by individuals and institutions.
Implicit Bias: Attitudes, assumptions, and associations expressed automatically that people unknowingly hold and that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions; also known as unconscious or hidden bias. These can be negative or positive in nature.
Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a fully participating member. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.
Institutional Racism: Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes and opportunities for different groups based on racial discrimination.
Intersectionality: A social construct that recognized the fluid diversity of identities that a person can hold such as gender, race, class, religion, professional status, marital status, socioeconomic status, etc.
“Isms”: A way of describing any attitude, action or institutional structure that subordinates (oppresses) a person or group because of their target group. For example, color (racism), gender (sexism), economic status (classism), older age (ageism), religion (e.g., anti-Semitism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), language/immigrant status (xenophobism), etc.
LGBTQIA: An inclusive term for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
Microaggression: The verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, insults, or belittlement, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon discriminatory belief systems.
Multicultural Competency: A process of embracing diversity and learning about people from other cultural backgrounds. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world, and an openness to learn from them.
Oppression: The systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression fuses institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry, and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures.
Patriarchy: Actions and beliefs that prioritizes masculinity. Patriarchy is practiced systemically in the ways and methods through which power is distributed in society (jobs and positions of power given to men in government, policy, criminal justice, etc.) while also influencing how we interact with one another interpersonally (gender expectations, sexual dynamics, space-taking, etc.).
People of Color: A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latinx, and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective “White”.
Prejudice: an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgment and can be rooted in stereotypes that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.
Privilege: Exclusive access or availability to material and immaterial resources based on the membership to a dominant social group.
Queer: An umbrella term that can refer to anyone who transgresses society’s view of gender or sexuality. The definitional indeterminacy of the word Queer, its elasticity, is one of its constituent characteristics: “A zone of possibilities.”
Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time.
Safe Space: Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.
Sexual Orientation: An individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Socialization: The process by which people are taught or made to behave in a way that is acceptable to their society.
Social Justice: Social justice constitutes a form of activism, based on principles of equity and inclusion that encompasses a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole.
Stereotype: A form of generalization rooted in blanket beliefs and false assumptions, a product of processes of categorization that can result in a prejudiced attitude, uncritical judgment, and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Stereotypes are typically negative, based on little information that does not recognize individualism and personal agency.
Structural Inequality: Systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws, and practices. When this kind of inequalities is related to racial/ethnic discrimination is referred to as systemic or structural racism.
System of Oppression: Conscious and unconscious, non-random, and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice, and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups. Sometimes is used to refer to systemic racism.
Tokenism: Presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for the participation of members of a certain socially oppressed group, who are expected to speak for the whole group without giving this person a real opportunity to speak for her/himself.
White Supremacy: A power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; and who feel superior to those of other racial/ethnic identities.