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Glossary of Terms

“Diversity is a fact.
Equity is a choice.
Inclusion is an action.
Belonging is an outcome.”

Arthur Chan

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategist

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Terms

Have a word, term or definition that you think should be on these lists?

Email your suggestion to be considered to Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Biama Charles, at

While the lists below are not all inclusive, they may assist you in laying the foundation of knowledge.

“stereotyping, prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory behavior, and social oppression toward people with disabilities to inhibit the rights and well-being of people with disabilities, which is currently the largest minority group in the United States (APA, 2021b; Bogart & Dunn, 2019)”(APA Inclusive Language Guidelines).

“The ‘ability to access’ the functionality of a system or entity, and gain the related benefits. The degree to which a product, service, or environment is accessible by as many people as possible. Accessible design ensures both direct (unassisted) access and indirect access through assistive technology (e.g., computer screen readers). Universal design ensures that an environment can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people.”(Harvard Equity, Diversity, Access, Inclusion,& Belonging)

“the processes of change in artifacts, customs, and beliefs that result from the contact of two or more cultures” (Britannica).

An acronym that stands for African American, Latino/a American, Asian American, and Native American.

BIPOC: An acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The term is intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous people and first appeared online in 2013. It has been subject to critique for being redundant and imprecise (The New York Times).

Latino/x/e: “Latine” and “Latinx” are gender-neutral alternatives to “Latino” or “Latina.” All four terms are used to describe a person of Latin American origin or descent.

The Harvard Equity, Diversity, Access, Inclusion,& Belonging Foundation Concepts and Affirming Language documents offers a section dedicated to Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin that defines all applicable terms (ex. Black, Indigenous Peoples, Asian).

“An active and consistent practice of unlearning and reevaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group”(Cornell University).

Ally/Allies: “people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns…”(Inclusive Language Guidelines).

Accomplice: “All accomplices are allies, but not all allies are accomplices. While an ally is willing to stand in support of a marginalized voice, risk is rarely involved. An accomplice uses the power and privilege they have to challenge the status quo, often risking their physical and social well being in the process.”(Harden-Moore, 2019)

Co-Conspirator: “Co-conspirators show up with (not just for) BIPOC people and/or LGBTQIA+ folks and they listen. They do not co-opt the cause, instead, they respect the work already being done by leaders in justice spaces and offer meaningful support… They are conscious of their privilege and they use it as fuel to help erode barriers that are tougher for affected constituencies to surmount. Co-conspirators ask how they can show up for the people already doing the work and they leverage their privilege in service of freedoms that they already enjoy.”(Tiffany, 2021)

“the process whereby individuals or groups of differing ethnic heritage are absorbed into the dominant culture of a society.” Assimilation can be voluntary or compulsory, and is considered “the most extreme form of acculturation” (see below). (Britannica).

“a procedure that has been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results and that is established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption”(Merriam-Webster).

“An opinion, feeling, or influence that strongly favors one side in an argument or one item in a group or series. A preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people who possess common physical characteristics or cultural experiences” (Cornell University).

Implicit Bias: “a negative attitude, of which one is not consciously aware, against a specific social group” (APA).

“an invitation to a one-on-one or small group conversation to bring attention to an individual or group’s harmful words or behavior, including bias, prejudice, microaggressions, and discrimination” (Harvard University Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging).

“bringing public attention to an individual, group, or organization’s harmful words or behavior.” The strategies of calling in and calling out are not mutually exclusive. (Harvard University Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging).

“adjusting one’s style of speech, appearance, behavior, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities” (Harvard Business Review).

“A perspective which attributes failures such as lack of achievement, learning, or success in gaining employment to a personal lack of effort or deficiency in the individual, rather than to failures or limitations of the education and training system or to prevalent socio‐economic trends…”(Oxford Reference).

“social categorization based on an individual’s membership in or identification with a particular cultural or ethnic group” (APA).

“Gender expression refers to the ways that people present their gender identity to the world. This may be through clothing, haircuts, behaviors, and other choices”(What Is Gender Expression?).

“a component of gender that describes a person’s psychological sense of their gender. Many people describe gender identity as a deeply felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or male; a girl, a woman, or female; or a nonbinary gender (e.g., genderqueer, gender nonbinary, gender-neutral, agender, gender-fluid) that may or may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth, presumed gender based on sex assignment, or primary or secondary sex characteristics (APA, 2015a). Gender identity applies to all individuals and is not a characteristic only of transgender or gender-nonbinary individuals. Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation; thus, the two must not be conflated (e.g., a gay transgender man has a masculine gender identity and a gay sexual orientation, a straight cisgender woman has a feminine gender identity and a straight sexual orientation)”(APA Inclusive Language Guidelines).

cisgender: refers to “a person whose gender identity aligns with sex assigned at birth” (APA, 2015a).

transgender: “an umbrella term used to describe the full range of people whose gender identity and/or gender role do not conform to what is typically associated with their sex assigned at birth” (APA, 2015a). The term “transgendered” is inappropriate because of the connotations that being transgender is something that is done to a person and to create distance from misconceptions that being trans requires a before/after, surgery, or other formal transition (Brandeis University PARC, n.d.).(APA)

gender and pronoun usage: do not use the term “preferred pronouns” because this implies a choice about one’s gender. Use the term “pronouns” or “identified pronouns” instead. When writing about a known individual, use that person’s identified pronouns. When referring to individuals whose identified pronouns are not known or when the gender of a generic or hypothetical person is irrelevant within the context, use the singular “they” to avoid making assumptions about an individual’s gender. Use the forms “they,” “them,” “theirs,” and so forth (APA, 2020b).

“the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness”(Merriam-Webster).

“an explicit intellectual and affective inclusion of all students into our fields and disciplines, through course content, assessment, and/or pedagogy” (Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning).

“results from policies, practices, and procedures of institutions—such as school, health care, law enforcement, and criminal justice systems—that marginalize diverse racial groups”(Inclusive Language Guidelines).

“the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects” (Center for Intersectional Justice).

“to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group” (Merriam-Webster).

“A comment or action that unconsciously or unintentionally expresses or reveals a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, such as a racial minority. These small, common occurrences include insults, slights, stereotyping, undermining, devaluing, delegitimizing, overlooking or excluding someone. Over time, microaggressions can isolate and alienate those on the receiving end, and affect their health and wellbeing.” (Harvard Equity, Diversity, Access, Inclusion,& Belonging).

“a term that evolved from the advocacy movement on behalf of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and has been embraced by other groups of individuals with neurologically based disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities [LDs]). Neurodiversity suggests that these disabilities are a natural variation in brain differences and that the workplace should adapt to them (Sumner & Brown, 2015)” (Inclusive Language Guidelines).

“A biological category based on reproductive, anatomical, and genetic characteristics, generally defined as male, female, and intersex.” (NIH Style Guide)

“Whiteness, as a concept, refers to the way in which white racial identity is normalized and considered the default in American society. Examples of this concept might include the color “nude” and what this has historically looked like in the clothing industry, a photographer’s failure to provide proper lighting when photographing people with darker complexions, a lack of hair products for individuals with textured hair, and greetings cards with mostly white-appearing illustrations”(Cornell University).

White fragility: “Coined by Robin D’Angelo in this article, it is used to describe the privilege that accrues to white people living in a society that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. D’Angelo argues that this builds an expectation of always feeling comfortable and safe, which in turn lowers the ability to tolerate racial stress and triggers a range of defensive reactions.”

White privilege: “A concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people. It is something that is pervasive throughout society and exists in all of the major systems and institutions that operate in society, as well as on an interpersonal level” (Understanding White Privilege).

White saviorism: “White saviorism can be thought of as the belief that white people are here to save, help, teach, and protect their non-white counterparts.”(Janice Gassam Asare, 2022)


Having an accurate knowledge base for the terms and definitions associated with the LGBTQ community is a good start to becoming an ally, or simply becoming more knowledgeable.

Developed by Ohio State’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services 4th floor, Ohio Union, 1739 North High St., Columbus, OH 43210 – 614-688-8449,,

The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as bisexual.

A type of legal recognition given to non-married couples, particularly same-sex partners, so that they can have access to the benefits enjoyed by married heterosexuals. Granted and recognized in only a few states.

Hiding one’s sexual orientation.

The process by which lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals recognize, acknowledge, accept, and typically appreciate their sexual identities.

Different treatment that favors one individual or group over another based on prejudice.

Individuals who share a life together, but are not married or joined in a civil union. A number of jurisdictions and institutions recognize and grant rights to same-sex domestic partners. For example, ten state governments, more than 200 colleges, and nearly half of Fortune 500 companies offer health benefits to the domestic partners of GLBT employees.

Wearing clothes considered appropriate for someone of another gender.

A woman (typically a lesbian) and a man (typically a gay man), respectively, who employ gender-marked clothing, makeup, and mannerisms for their own and other people’s appreciation or entertainment.

A female-to-male transsexual, or a transsexual man. Some transsexuals reject this term, arguing that they have always been a male or female and are only making that identity visible. Others feel that such language reinforces an either/or gender system.

The social construction of masculinity and femininity in a specific culture. It involves gender assignment (the gender designation of someone at birth), gender roles (the expectations imposed on someone based on their gender). Gender attribution (how others perceive someone’s gender), and gender identity (how someone defines their own gender).

How one chooses to express one’s gender identity.

How one sees oneself as a gendered being.

A term used by many trans youth who do not identify as either male or female and who often seek to blur gender lines.

An alternative term for transgender, meaning someone who varies from traditional expressions of “masculine” and “feminine.”

The cultural, institutional, and individuals beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate LGB people. The critical element that differentiates heterosexism (or any other “ism”) from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systematic ways with far-reaching outcomes and effects.

Heterosexual people who confront homophobia and heterosexism in themselves and others.

The benefits and advantages that heterosexuals receive in a heterosexual culture. Also, the benefits that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals receive as a result of claiming a heterosexual identity and denying a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity.

The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as lesbian or gay, including the fear of being seen as lesbian or gay yourself. Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men, to verbal abuse, to acts of physical violence. (Some people choose not to use the word “homophobia,” preferring instead to include anti-GLBT attitudes and behavior in how they define “heterosexism”).

A person who is born with “sex chromosomes,” external genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that is not considered “standard” for either male or female (preferred term to “hermaphrodite”). About one in 2,000 children, or five children per day in the United States, are born visibly intersex.

A male-to-female transsexual, or a transsexual woman. Some transsexuals reject this term, arguing that they have always been a male or female and are only making that identity visible. Others feel that such language reinforces an either/or gender system.

The systematic exploitation of one social group by another for its own benefit. It involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the promulgation of the dominant group’s culture on the oppressed. Oppression = Prejudice + Power.

A set of negative beliefs or feelings that are generalized to apply to a whole group of people and any member of that group. Anyone can be prejudiced toward another individual or group.

A once exclusively derogatory term that some GLBT people, especially GLBT youth, have reclaimed as an inclusive and positive way to describe themselves and their community. The term is now being used in popular culture, but it is still viewed as an insult, depending on who is saying it and in what context.

The cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege white people and subordinate and denigrate people of color.

The biological assignment of “male” or “female” based upon the genitalia that an individual possesses at birth. The biological sexes are commonly seen as mutually exclusive, and it is often believed that a person’s sex should indicate their gender expression (those born with “male” genitalia should behave in a masculine way and those born with “female” genitalia should behave a feminine way). However, many individuals are born with the sexual characteristics that cannot be categorized as wholly “male” or “female.” The commonality of intersex births challenges the belief that there are only two categories of sex and they are mutually exclusive, and that individuals are innately programmed to behave in a manner dictated by the genitalia they possess at birth.

The cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege men and subordinate and denigrate women.

The desire for intimate emotional and sexual relationships with people of the same gender (lesbians and gay men), another gender (heterosexuals), or more than one gender (bisexuals).

An umbrella term for someone whose self-identification or expression challenges traditional notions of “male” and “female.” Transgender people include transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, gender queers, and others who cross or transgress gender categories.

The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as transgendered.

A person who identifies with a gender different from their biological gender. Transsexuals often undergo hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgeries to align their anatomy with their core identity, but not desire or can afford to.

A Native American/First Nation term for people who blend the masculine and the feminine. It is commonly used to describe individuals who historically crossed gender boundaries and were accepted by Native American/First Nation cultures (preferred term to “berdache”). It is also often used by contemporary GLBT Native American and First Nation people to describe themselves.


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