DEI Terms and Definitions
The language that we use is meant to engage, educate and support our efforts in anti-racist and anti-bias initiatives at Marymount. Dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion continues to grow, and therefore, a common vocabulary is necessary to avoid any misinterpretations or misunderstandings. The goal of this glossary is to provide a basic framework for our work.
- 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-bias Education: Anti-bias education is an approach to teaching and learning designed to increase understanding of differences and their value to a respectful and civil society and to actively challenge bias, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination in schools and communities.
- Anti-racism: Conscious and intentional actions, policies, or practices of actively opposing systemic racism at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels.
- BIPOC: Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
- 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.
- Cultural Responsiveness: The application of a defined set of values, principles, skills, attitudes, policies, and behaviors that enable individuals and groups to work effectively across cultures. Cultural responsiveness is a developmental process (and continuum) that evolves over time for both individuals and organizations. It is defined as having the capacity to: (1) value diversity; (2) conduct assessment of self; (3) manage the dynamics of difference; (4) acquire and apply cultural knowledge; and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities in which one lives and works.
- 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.
- Diversity: The presence, acceptance, and appreciation of varied cultures. The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences. Diversity is a term used as shorthand for visible and quantifiable statuses, but diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being, and doing are also understood as natural, valued, and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces, and society.
- Equity: A condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all. Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, multi-partiality, and the absence of discrimination.
- Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group identity, values, culture, language, history, ancestry and geography.
- Gender: Socially constructed categories of masculinity and manhood, femininity and womanhood that goes beyond one’s reproductive functions. Gender is distinct from one’s sexual orientation.
- Gender expression: This is the way we show our gender to the world around us through such manifestations as clothing, hairstyles, and mannerisms to name a few.
- Gender identity: A person’s internal sense of themselves as a specific gender. A cisgender person has a gender identity consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender person has a gender identity that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender, however, is a spectrum and is not limited to just two possibilities. A person may have a non-binary gender identity meaning they do not identify strictly as a boy or a girl.
- LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Other; abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual. Both terms are umbrella terms that are often used to refer to the community as a whole.
- Implicit bias: The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Everyone is susceptible to implicit biases.
- Inclusivity/Inclusiveness: Encompassing all; taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all, cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice. Inclusivity also promotes and enacts the sharing of power and recognition of interdependence, where authorizing individuals and community members share responsibility for expressing core values and maintaining respect for differences in the spirit of care and cooperation.
- Microaggressions: Microaggressions are subtle words, cues, and/or behaviors that insult, invalidate, or exclude traditionally marginalized group members. The long-term effect of microaggressions can be a significant negative effect on one’s health.
- Multiculturalism: The presence of many distinctive cultures and the manifestation of cultural components and derivatives (e.g. language, values, religion, race, communication styles, etc.) in a given setting. Multiculturalism promotes the understanding of, and respect for cultural differences, and celebrates them as source of community strength. Multiculturalism is also defined as set of programs, policies, and practices that enable and maximize the benefits of diversity in a school community or organization.
- People of Color: A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latin and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective “White.”
- Privilege: Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot “opt out” of systems of privilege; rather these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.
- Race: A social construct that divides people into groups based on factors such as physical appearance, ancestry, culture, history, etc.; a social, historical and political classification system.
- Racism: A system of advantage based on race. This advantage occurs at the individual, cultural and institutional levels. Racism can also be defined as prejudice plus power.
- Sexual orientation: A concept referring to a person’s sexual desire in relation to the sex/gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual.
- Social class (as in upper class, middle class, working class): Refers to people’s socio-economic status, based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income, etc.
Sources for these definitions include the National Association of Independent Schools, ADL, The BIPOC Project, Racial Equity Tools, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, Lakeside School, and Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.