Diversity Glossary

Common dimensions of diversity, arranged alphabetically.

Age can be a factor in issues of access and equity. ln particular, the elderly may encounter discrimination due to age. ln addition, generalizations about generational groups can lead to stereotypes.

Biological Sex is a physical or medical classification; most often termed either "male" or "female." This classification is usually based on a person’s internal and external sex organs but can also be based on chromosomes or hormone levels. Biological sex is not the same as gender identity or gender expression.

Disability refers to a way of describing people based on their physical, mental or emotional abilities, as compared to "average" or "normal" people. People with disabilities sometimes identify others’ attitudes as their biggest barriers.

Ethnicity is a grouping of people that is based on a combination of cultural heritage, location, language, religion, and shared history. Sometimes, ethnicity is referred to as race, though most scholars consider them different.i

Gender Expression is the way people "wear" their gender. It can include the way people act, how they dress, how they wear their hair, how they speak, or how they change their bodies, from wearing make-up to having surgery. Gender expression is not the same as sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gender Identity is the way each of us feel about our own gender. It is important to remember that gender identity is what we feel and and call ourselves. Though most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex, others may feel that their gender identity is different from their biological sex. In these cases, people may choose to change their gender expression or their biological sex.

Language can be a factor in issues of access and equity. One's ability to speak fluently the primary language of a community may affect one's abhility to be a fully included member of that community.

Marital or Parental Status can factors in issues of access and equity. For example, whether or not one is single, married, and/or a parent may affect one's access to employment, housing, and other material and social resources.

National Origin or Ancestry refers to classification of people based on the country in which they were born or raised.

Race is a classification that groups humans together based on physical traits such as skin color, hair texture, etc. Current scientific data suggest that there are more physical differences within so-called races than between them.ii

Religion is an organized belief system based on certain principles of faith.

Sexual Orientation describes people based on their relational, romantic, and/or sexual attractions. Frequently used terms for describing one’s sexual orientation are lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning and straight.

Social Class refers to the way people are grouped in a culture based on their socio-economic status and access to material and social resources.

Veteran Status can be a factor in issues of access and equity. A veteran is a person who served in the Armed Forces. Some veterans have encountered discrimination in civilian employment due to their status as veterans.


i, ii Fox, Helen. When Race Breaks Out: Conversations about race and racism in college classrooms. Peter Lang, 2001. (Google/Bing this)
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