Definition of Terms

Adapted from the Anti-Defamation League: www.adl.org

Ableism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people with mental or physical disabilities.

Ageism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their age.

Anti-bias is an active commitment to challenging prejudice, stereotyping, and all forms of discrimination.

Anti-Semitism is a form of religious bigotry. It is prejudice or discrimination against Jews, based on negative ideas about Jews' religious beliefs and practices and/or on negative group stereotypes.

Bias is an inclination or preference that interferes with impartial judgment either for or against an individual or group.

Bigotry is prejudice and/or discrimination against one or all members of a particular group based on negative perceptions of their beliefs and practices or on negative group stereotypes.

Classism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their socioeconomic background.

Culture includes the patterns of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing, to name a few examples.

Discrimination is the behavior that can follow prejudicial thinking. Discrimination is the denial of justice and fair treatment in many areas, including employment, housing, and political rights.

Diversity means different or varied. The population of the United States consists of people from diverse races, cultures, and places.

Hate crimes are defined under specific penal code sections as acts or attempted acts by any person against the person or property of another individual or group that in any way constitutes an expression of hostility toward the victim because of his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender, or ethnicity (elements of crime statutes and protected classifications vary by state). Hate crimes include, but are not limited to, threatening phone calls, hate mail, physical assaults, vandalism, cross burnings, destruction of religious symbols, and fire bombings.

Hate-motivated incidents are defined as behavior that constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another person because of the victim's race, religion, disability, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Hate-motivated incidents include those actions that are motivated by bias but do not meet the necessary elements required to prove a crime. They may include behavior such as engaging in nonthreatening name-calling, using racial slurs, or disseminating racist leaflets.

Heterosexism is the belief that heterosexuals are superior to gay, lesbian, or bisexual people. Heterosexism denies and stigmatizes any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community.

Homophobia is the irrational fear of people who are believed to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Multicultural means having many or multiple cultures. The United States is multicultural because its population consists of people from many different cultures.

Prejudice is an adverse judgment, opinion, preconceived idea, or irrational suspicion or hatred formed beforehand or without knowledge of a particular person, group, race, or religion. Prejudicial thinking is based on stereotypes.

Racism is a prejudice and/or discrimination based on the myth of race. Racists believe that some groups are born superior to others and, in the name of protecting their race from "contamination," they justify the domination and destruction of races they consider to be inferior to their own.

Scapegoating is the action of blaming an individual or group for something when, in reality, there is no one person or group responsible for the problem. It means blaming another person or group for problems in society because of that person's group identity. Prejudicial thinking and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating. Members of the disliked group are denied employment, housing, political rights, social privileges, or a combination of these. Scapegoating can lead to verbal and physical violence, including death.

Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on gender.

Stereotype is an oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard for individual differences. Even positive stereotypes, such as believing that all Asians are good at math and computers, have a negative impact.

Transgender is generally used as an "umbrella" term for a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups centered around the full or partial reversal of gender roles.

Transsexual people desire to have, or have achieved, a different physical gender from that which they were assigned at birth. Individuals who have the sense of having the wrong gender body may wish to and/or seriously act upon changing their body gender - though not always - by sexual reassignment surgery. All transsexuals are referred to by the pronouns of the gender they see themselves as being, whether they are pre-operative, non-operative, or post-operative. If you are unsure of how to refer to or address someone, it is best to kindly, respectfully, and sensitively explore this with the individual by asking what the gender preference is while in transition. You may think this is awkward, but by asking you show the person that you are aware of the issue and want to respect his or her feelings.


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