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Commonly Used Terms Related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UMMC believes that the words that we use matter and reflect the incredible diversity that characterizes our society. Therefore, we have put together a list with the most commonly used terms related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This list strives to identify inclusive terminology while offering useful descriptions. All the terms provided on this list are intended as flexible, working definitions.

  • Ableism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability.
  • Acceptance: The quality or state of being accepted or acceptable.
  • Ageist: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group on the basis of their age.
  • Ally: A person who is not LGBTQ but shows support for LGBTQ people and promotes equality in a variety of ways.
  • Androgynous: A person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor woman, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.
  • Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of an individual.
  • Assigned Birth Sex: The biological sex assigned (named) an individual baby at birth.
  • Bias: A prejudice, either in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way that is considered to be unfair.
  • Biphobia: An irrational dislike or fear of bisexual people.
  • Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.
  • Classist: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group based on social or economic class.
  • Climate: Current attitudes, behaviors, and standards of employees and students concerning the access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities, and potential.
  • Closeted: Describes an LGBTQ person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Collaboration: The act of working together with other people or organizations to create or achieve something.
  • Compassion: Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
  • Cronyism: The hiring or promoting of friends or associates to positions without proper regard to their qualifications.
  • Culture: Shared set of beliefs, assumptions, and practices through which we see and understand the world around us.
  • Disability: A physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.
  • Discrimination: Discrimination refers to the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs rather than on individual merit. Discrimination can be the effect of some law or established practice that confers privilege or liability based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), genetic information (including family medical history), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual identity, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services.
  • Diversity: Wide variety of shared and different personal and group characteristics among human beings.
  • Engagement: Involvement, participation, intervention.
  • Equality: The quality or state of being equal.
  • Equity: is the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically.
  • Ethnic Identity: A socially constructed category about a group of people based on their shared culture. This can be reflected in language, religion, material culture such as clothing and cuisine, and cultural products such as music and art.
  • Ethnocentrism: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group’s culture based solely on the values and standards of one's own culture. Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion.
  • Family Leave: The Family and Medical Leave Act is a labor law requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide certain employees with job-protected unpaid leave due to situations such as the following: serious health conditions that make employees unable to perform their jobs; caring for a sick family member; or caring for a new child (including birth, adoption, or foster care). For more information, see http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
  • Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.
  • Gender Expression: 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.
  • Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity is outside of, not included within, or beyond the binary of female and male, or who is gender nonconforming through expression, behavior, social roles, and/or identity.
  • Gender Non-conforming (or non-binary): A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category.
  • Gender Transition: The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with their outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns, and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.
  • Harassment: Unwelcomed behavior that demeans, threatens, or offends another person or group of people and results in a hostile environment for the targeted person/group.
  • Heterosexist: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group based on a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual.
  • Homophobia: An irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality and individuals who identify as or are perceived as homosexual.
  • Inclusion: Involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized.
  • Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
  • Intersex: Any one of a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
  • Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
  • LGBTQ: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.
  • Microaggressions: Everyday insults, indignities, and demeaning messages sent to historically marginalized groups.
  • Motivation: The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  • Nepotism: The hiring or promoting of family members to positions without proper regard to their qualifications.
  • Nonbinary: Any gender, or lack of gender, or a mix of genders that is not strictly man or woman.
  • Non-Native English Speakers: People for whom English is not their first language.
  • Pansexual: Fluid in sexual identity and is attracted to others regardless of their sexual identity or gender.
  • People of Color: People who self-identify as other than White.
  • Physical Characteristics: Term that refers to one’s appearance.
  • Position: The status one holds by virtue of her/his role/status within the institution (e.g., staff, full-time faculty, part-time faculty, administrator).
  • Queer: A term people often use to express fluid identities and orientations. Often used interchangeably with “LGBTQ.”
  • Questioning: A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Racial Identity: A socially constructed category about a group of people based on generalized physical features such as skin color, hair type, shape of eyes, physique, etc.
  • Racist: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group based on their racial identity.
  • Respect: 1. An act of giving particular attention, Consideration 2. High or special regard, Esteem 3. The quality or state of being esteemed.
  • Sexist: Someone who practices discrimination or prejudice against an individual or group based on their assigned birth sex.
  • Sexual Assault: Unwanted sexual assault is any actual or attempted nonconsensual sexual activity including, but not limited to: sexual intercourse, or sexual touching, committed with coercion, threat, or intimidation (actual or implied) with or without physical force; exhibitionism; or sexual language of a threatening nature by a person(s) known or unknown to the victim. Forcible touching, a form of sexual assault, is defined as intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person or for gratifying sexual desires.
  • Sexual Identity: A personal characteristic based on the sex of people one tends to be emotionally, physically, and sexually attracted to; this is inclusive of, but not limited to, lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, heterosexual people, and those who identify as queer.
  • Sexual Orientation: An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
  • Socioeconomic Status: The status one holds in society based on one’s level of income, wealth, education, and familial background.
  • Stereotype: A belief that associates a group of people with certain traits or characteristics.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.
  • Transphobia: An irrational dislike or fear of transgender, transsexual, and other gender non­traditional individuals because of their perceived gender identity or gender expression.
  • Unconscious Bias: Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one's tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.
  • Unwanted Sexual Contact: Unwelcomed touching of a sexual nature that includes fondling (any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object without consent); rape; sexual assault (including oral, anal, or vaginal penetration with a body part or an object); use of alcohol or other drugs to incapacitate; gang rape; and sexual harassment involving physical contact.
  • Xenophobic: Unreasonably fearful or hostile toward people from other countries.