Glossary of Working Definitions

This glossary is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every word and term used in our conversations about diversity, equity and social justice. Because of the way language works especially around these concepts, many of these words and terms will continue to evolve. Even so it can be useful to have a reference that provides basic working definitions that help spur discussions.

Term or Acronym Definition

Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental, and/or emotional ability; usually that of able‐bodied / minded persons against people with illness, disabilities, or less developed skills / talents.


The extent to which a facility is readily approachable and usable by individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the personnel office, worksite and public areas.


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions against young people, in favor of older people.

Affirmative Action

Action taken by a government or private institution to make up for past discrimination in education, work, or promotion based on age, birth, color, creed, nationality, ethnic origin, physical or mental ability, familial status, gender, language, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation.


Not having a gender.


A non-binary person who is both a man and woman, neither man nor woman, or between man and woman.


Having an appearance that is traditionally seen as both masculine and feminine, neither masculine nor feminine, or in between masculine and feminine.


Someone who speaks up for themselves and members of their identity group; e.g., a woman who lobbies for equal pay for women.

AFAB/AMAB Assigned female at birth; assigned male at birth. These terms are often critiqued for their tendency to enforce a binary but can be useful descriptors at times. (Not a preferred term, see TME/TMA).

The ability to act independently and make free choices; the ability to make conscious decisions for oneself.


The perpetrator or perpetuator of oppression and/or discrimination; usually a member of the dominant, non‐target identity group.


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in age; usually that of younger persons against older.

Allosexual/alloromantic Experiencing sexual or romantic attraction to other people. The opposite of asexual/aromantic.

Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.

Anti‐Semitism Hatred of or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.
Aphobia Hatred of or prejudice against people on the asexual or aromantic spectrums.

Adopting elements of a different culture without understanding, credit, or permission. This occurs when a dominant culture takes from a minority culture and involves a power imbalance.


Experiencing a lack of romantic attraction towards other people. Aromantic people have varying preferences on relationships. Some enjoy participating in romantic relationships, some prefer queer-platonic partnerships, and some prefer not to be in a relationship. Can be combined with other terms (bisexual aromantic, etc.)

Asexual Experiencing a lack of sexual attraction towards other people. Asexuality encompasses a wide range of experiences; asexual people can be sex repulsed, sex neutral, or sex positive, and can have varying sex drives. Commonly abbreviated to “ace.” Can be combined with other terms (asexual panromantic, etc.)

The process by which one group takes on the cultural and other traits of a larger group; usually refers to the forced acculturation of a marginalized group by the dominant or White group.

Bias A belief (positive or negative) held about a group.
Bias Incident A discriminatory act (conduct or speech or behavior) directed towards an individual or group based on their protected status with the intent to demean, intimidate, and/or threaten the individual/group/community. This does not rise to the level of a crime. Examples may include slurs, graffiti, or written messages.


Intolerance and prejudice that glorifies one's own group and denigrates other groups and their members.


Hatred of or prejudice against bisexuality and bisexual people.


Belonging to two races or having biological parents of two different races.

Bigender/Dual Gender

Having two genders. These may be binary or nonbinary genders.


The division of society into only men and women, which ignores the existence of nonbinary and intersex people.


Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction to two or more genders.


The natural cognitive process of grouping and labeling people, things, etc. based on their similarities. Categorization becomes problematic when the groupings become oversimplified and rigid (e.g. stereotypes).


A socially constructed assumption that everyone’s gender matches their biological sex, and that that is the norm from which all other gender identities deviate civil rights the rights established and ensured by a state government regarding political and social equality.


Any attitude or institutional practice which subordinates people of a certain socioeconomic class due to income, occupation, education, and/or their economic status; a system that works to keep certain communities within a set socioeconomic class and prevents social and economic mobility


A collection of different people or groups, working toward a common goal.


The capture and expression of a complex concept in a simple symbol, sign or prop; for example, symbolizing “community” (equity, connection, unity) with a circle.


Willing participation in the discrimination against and/or oppression of one’s own group (e.g., a woman who enforces dominant body ideals through her comments and actions).

Color Blindness

A term referring to the disregard of racial characteristics. Proponents of color-blind practices believe that treating people equally inherently leads to a more equal society and/or that racism and race privilege no longer exercise the power they once did, while opponents of color-blind practices believe that color-blindness allows those in power to disregard or ignore the history of oppression and how it is experienced today. (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, color etc.”), as it does not recognize the continued existence of racial privilege support by racialized structures and practices. (This is an ableist term we must contextualize).


The invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a people that results in long-term institutionalized inequality in which the colonizer benefits at the expense of the colonized.

Community Based Organization

A private, nonprofit organization (which may include faith-based organizations), that is representative of a community or a significant segment of a community aimed at making improvements to a community’s health and well-being through the coordination of public and private agencies.

Communities of Color

Identity - based communities that hold a primary racial identity and/or shared racial characteristics among members.

Contact Hypothesis

The original scientific motivation for integration of education and the armed forces, this theory posits that bringing peoples of different backgrounds together (on a college campus, for example) will lead to improved relations among them. Additional research has shown this to be true only under certain conditions including sanction by authority, common goals, and equal status contact (both numerically and psychologically). (Allport, 1957).

Critical Race Theory

Refers to a critical analysis of race and racism that examines the intersection of race, law, and power. Critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism and principles of constitutional law.


A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors and styles of communication.

Cultural appropriation

The act of members of dominant/powerful/privileged groups claiming ownership of, or the rights to, less powerful/privileged groups' cultural and/or religious symbols, dress, and ceremonies.

Cultural competence

The ability to effectively and empathetically work and engage with people of different cultural identities and backgrounds in order to provide safe and accountable spaces for dialogue and discourse; cultural competence is relevant in all fields of work, education, and informal social interactions.

Cultural Humility

A process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.

Culturally Appropriate

Service delivery systems that respond to the needs of the community being served as defined by that community.


Having a partial connection to one or more genders. Often used as demigirl, demiboy, etc.


Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction only after forming an emotional connection with other people. Under the asexual umbrella.


"Communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings” (Wink, 1997); it is bidirectional, not zero‐sum and may or may not end in agreement; it can be emotional and uncomfortable, but is safe, respectful and has greater understanding as its goal.


Actions, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, which favor one group over others in the provision of goods, services, or opportunities.


The wide variety of shared and different personal and group characteristics among human beings.

Dominant Culture

The cultural values, beliefs, and practices that are assumed to be the most common and influential within a given society.

Drag Queen/King

A person who exaggerates gender presentation, usually for the purpose of performance or entertainment. This is a form of gender exploration but being a drag performer does not necessarily mean someone is part of the LGBTQIA+ community.


Having sex characteristics that can be categorized into a binary sex. The opposite of intersex.


The situation in which all people or groups are given access to the correct number and types of resources for them to achieve equal results; differs from equality, which focuses on the equal distribution of resources rather than equal results.


An ethnic group; a social group that shares a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.


Consciously or unconsciously privileging one’s ow ethnic group over others; assuming or judging other groups according to one’s own group values.


The invalidation of an identity, which includes exclusion and lack of representation. A form of silencing.

Fat Acceptance

A social movement that seeks to counter fatphobia. Similar movements include body positivity.


Hatred of or prejudice against fat people.


The pursuit of the social, economic, and political equality of all people, regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, race, geographical location, body size, socioeconomic status, physical and mental ability, and religion.

Freedom of Speech/1st amendment rights

LWTech respects and supports the right of students and employees to express any opinions without censorship or restraint. We do have policies that provide limits on the time, place, and manner of this speech to ensure the college can operate to fulfill its educational mission.

First Nations People

Tribal people who identify as those who were the first people to live on the Western Hemisphere continent; also identified as Native Americans.

Fundamental Attribution Error

A common cognitive action in which one attributes his/her own success and positive actions to his/her own innate characteristics (“I’m a good person”) and failure to external influences (“I lost it in the sun”), while attributing others success to external influences (“he had help, was lucky”) and failure to others’ innate characteristics (‘they’re bad people”). This operates on the group levels as well, with the ingroup giving itself favorable attributions, while giving the out-group unfavorable attributions, as way of maintaining a feeling of superiority. A double standard.


Experiencing attraction to members of the same or similar gender. Can also occasionally be used as an umbrella term for anyone who is not straight.


The socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and characteristics that a given society categorizes as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’; not defined by one’s biological sex. Gender is a spectrum that includes a huge variety of different identities.

Gender Dysphoria

Severe distress or discomfort experienced by a trans person due to the difference between their gender and the sex they were assigned at birth.


Having a denotative or connotative association with being either (traditionally) masculine or feminine.


Having a gender that is not static and can vary over time.

Gender neutral pronouns

Pronouns that do not adhere to the he/she and his/her binary and can refer to several different gender identities.

Gender Nonconforming

Expressing oneself in ways outside of society’s binary gender roles.


Having a gender that is outside of the gender binary.

Gender Roles

Binary societal norms that are expected to shape the behavior and experiences of men and women.


The term originates from the Hawaiian Pidgin word for "part" or "mixed” and refers to any person of mixed ethnic heritage, regardless of the specific mixture.

Hate Crime

This consists of two parts it must first be a criminal offense against a person or property AND it must also be motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a person’s or groups protected class (race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation) of any person.

Hate Speech

A commonly used term that does not have a legal definition. It is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons. This is another example of a bias incident as it is speech that does not raise to the level of a crime.


The presumption that everyone is, and should be, heterosexual.


Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction to members of another gender.

Historically Marginalized Communities

Those communities who have been historically excluded from involvement in our cities, as well as those continuing to face other barriers to civic participation. This includes those marginalized by factors like race, wealth, immigration status, and sexual orientation.


Hatred of or prejudice against homosexuality and gay or lesbian people.


Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction to members of the same or similar gender. (Not a preferred term. See Gay, Lesbian)

Implicit Bias

Negative associations expressed automatically that people unknowingly hold; also known as unconscious or hidden bias.


the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. In a way that acknowledges and shares power.

Indigenous peoples

ethnic groups who are the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. In the United States, this can refer to groups traditionally termed Native Americans (American Indians), Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. In Canada, it can refer to the groups typically termed First Nations.

In‐group Bias

the tendency for groups to favor themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another. Also known as favoritism.

Institutional oppression

The systematic mistreatment and dehumanization of any individual based solely on a social identity group with which they identify that is supported and enforced by society and its institutions; based on their membership in such a social identity group.

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups but always benefiting the dominant group. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for Whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color for example, city sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

Intergroup Conflict

Tension and conflict which exists between social groups. And which may be enacted by individual members of these groups.


The interaction of a person or group’s social identities or roles that result in the specific way they experience the world. In other words, the way that someone’s identities interact result in an experience that isn’t just the sum of those identities but is unique to that combination of identities. For an example, see Misogynoir or Transmisogyny.


Having sex characteristics that cannot be categorized into a binary sex. The opposite of dyadic.


Hatred of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.


A social phenomenon and psychological state where prejudice is accompanied by the power to systemically enact an institutionalized form of discrimination.


A woman who is attracted to other women.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, aromantic, and other identities that are non-heteronormative and non-CIS normative (i.e. not straight or not cisgender.)

Low-Income Communities

U.S. Census tract where 51 percent of the residents are low -income families with an annual income that does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the area or that does not exceed 80 percent of the median income for the State, whichever is higher, as most recently determined by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community.


Subconscious and often well-meaning actions or remarks that convey an unconscious bias and hurt the person at the receiving end.


Hatred of or prejudice against women.


The specific type of misogyny that is directed toward black women.

Model Minority

a demographic group (whether based on ethnicity, race or religion) whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average. This success is typically measured relatively by income, education, low criminality and high family/marital stability. A controversial concept that has historically been used to suggest that there is no need to adjust for socioeconomic disparities between certain groups, to pit non-dominant groups against one another, and to diminish the achievements of relevant groups.


Experiencing attraction to only one gender. Straight, gay, and lesbian are monosexual identities.


Hatred of or prejudice against non-monosexual identities, including bisexuals, pansexuals, omnisexuals, polysexuals, etc.

Multiculturalism (n)

is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviors, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.


The quality of having multiple, simultaneous social identities (e.g., being male and Buddhist and working class).


An individual whose heritage encompasses more than two races.


An individual that comes from more than one ethnicity. An individual whose parents are born from more than one ethnicity.


When we articulate a thought that traditionally has not been discussed or the calling out.

National Origin

is a group of people sharing a common language, culture, ancestry, and/or other similar social characteristics; may or may not be the same as that the person's current location or citizenship.


Having a gender outside of the gender binary. Often shortened to nb or enby.


Results from the use of institutional power and privilege where one person or group benefits at the expense of another. Oppression is the use of power and the effects of domination.

Pansexual/panromantic (also referred to as omnisexual)

Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction regardless of gender or to all genders.


A social system and institution in which men have primary power in the political, social, economic, legal, and familial spheres; patriarchy favors male-dominated thought, and is centralized on the male narrative or perspective of how the world works and should work.

People of Color

A collective term for people of Asian, African, Latin and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective "White" for those of European ancestry.

Personal Identity

Our identities as individuals‐including our personal characteristics, history, personality, name, and other characteristics that make us unique and different from other individuals.


The practice of nonmonogamy, having more than one relationship, or having relationships with more than two people. Polyamory prioritizes communication, honesty, and consent from all individuals. This is not an LGBTQIA+ identity, as it refers to how someone participates in relationships rather than who they are attracted to.


Experiencing sexual/romantic attraction to multiple genders.


A preconceived judgment about a person or group of people; usually indicating negative bias.


Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to members of a dominant group (e.g. White privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because they are taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

Protected Class

Legal recognition of protected class at the federal level currently includes race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. At the state level the list includes race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap (and the crime is called “malicious harassment”.)


An umbrella term that refers to being part of the LGBTQQIA+ community. It refers to anyone who doesn’t prescribe to societal views of gender and sexuality; implies elasticity and a resistance to the notion of a predetermined gender and sexual identity based on biology.


Being uncertain of one’s sexual/romantic orientation or gender.


A term used to identify and define individuals as part of a distinct group based on physical characteristics and some cultural and historical commonalities, once used to denote differentiations in humankind based on physiology and biology, race is now understood as a social construct that is not scientifically based, though is still commonly associated with notions of biological difference; race is still sometimes perceived as innate and inalterable.


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions of prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power.


A cognitive process for protecting stereotypes by explaining any evidence/example to the contrary as an isolated exception. Also known as exception‐making.


A system of beliefs, usually spiritual in nature, and often in terms of a formal, organized denomination.

Romantic Orientation

A description of how someone experiences romantic attraction.

Safe Space

Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of judgement, attack, ridicule or denial of experience.

Same Gender Loving

a term coined by activist Cleo Manago as a description for homosexuals, particularly in the African American community. SGL is an alternative to Eurocentric homosexual identities e.g. gay and lesbian.


The quality of a group identity of which an individual is more conscious, and which plays a larger role in that individual's day‐to‐day life.


A socially constructed classification system based on a person’s sex characteristics. Sex is a spectrum that includes a variety of sexes much larger than just male or female, based on biological differences.


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Sexual Orientation

A description of how someone experiences sexual attraction.


The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is exclude or inhibited.

Social Identity

It involves the ways in which one characterizes oneself, the affinities one has with other people, the ways one has learned to behave in stereotyped social settings, the things one values in oneself and in the world, and the norms that one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior.

Social Identity Development

The stages or phases that a person's group identity follows as it matures or develops.

Social Justice

Social justice is full a commitment to challenging social, cultural, and economic inequalities imposed on individuals arising from any differential distribution of power, resources, and privilege.

Social Oppression

"Exist when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another group for its own benefit" (Hardiman and Jackson, 1997)

Social Self‐Esteem

The degree of positive‐negative evaluation an individual hold about his/her particular situation in regard to his/her social identities.

Social Self‐View

An individual's perception of to which social identity groups he/she belongs.

Split Attraction Model

A model developed by the asexual and aromantic communities that separates different types of attractions into sexual, romantic, platonic, etc., and allows people to specify how their preferences vary for different types of attraction (for example bisexual demiheteromantic, or asexual panromantic). This model is not useful for everyone but is a very helpful tool in allowing for more complex descriptions of attraction.


The practice of inequitably calling attention to particular social groups in language, while leaving others as the invisible, de facto norm. For example "black male suspect"(versus "male suspect," presumed white); "WNBA" (as opposed to "NBA," presumed male).


An attitude, belief, feeling, or assumption about a person or group of people that are widespread and socially sanctioned; though stereotypes can be positive and negative, they all have negative effects because they support institutionalized oppression by validating oversimplified beliefs that are often not based on facts.

Stereotype threat

The risk of internalizing and confirming others’ negative biases towards one’s social group.


The superiority of one group of people over other groups of people through a system of domination and subordination.

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.

Targeted Group/Person

The bias response team refers to individuals who are the recipient of bias motived behavior as a “targeted person or group”. This behavior may be motivated by an identity that is not a protected class such as immigration status or political affiliation.


Transmisogyny exempt/transmisogyny affected. An alternative to AFAB/AMAB for trans people that allows for a focus on social effects rather than sex assignment at birth.

Tolerance (n)

Acceptance and open‐mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily mean agreement with the differences.


The fear or hatred of people perceived to be transgender.


Identifying as a gender other than the gender assigned at birth. This may be a binary or nonbinary gender.


The specific form of misogyny experienced by trans women.

Two Spirit

a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans to describe certain people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures.

Unconscious bias

Negative stereotypes regarding a person or group of people; these biases influence individuals’ thoughts and actions without their conscious knowledge. We all have unconscious biases.

Veteran Status

Whether or not an individual has served in a nation's armed forces (or other uniformed service).

White privilege

The right or advantage provided to people who are considered white; an exemption of social, political, and/or economic burdens placed on non-white people; benefiting from societal structuring that prioritizes white people and whiteness.


The perspective through which individuals view the world; comprised of their history, experiences, culture, family history, and other influences.


The unreasonable fear or dislike of things, cultures, forms of expression, or people that are different from oneself and one’s own experiences of the everyday; fear of that which seems foreign or strange.