DEI Glossary of Terms

​​​​​Having shared knowledge and understanding of community-based values and concepts is a fundamental core aspect of social justice-related diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

The following definitions have been created or adopted by the Dallas College community to support our collective understanding, knowledge and learning processes. It is important to note that as our society continues to evolve, so too must our understandings. Please view this listing as a nonexhaustive, living document subject to adjustment.

Download the Supplemental Glossary of Terms (PDF - 248KB)


In group environments and dynamics, belonging is the amplification of inclusive practices that render the knowing and understanding of individuals of their worth, contributions, value and welcomed presence. More than a feeling, belonging is the knowing that one is desired, appreciated, celebrated, wanted and valued in a relationship, dynamic, environment and community.


An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that is both a result of, and integral to, the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Institutional or organizational culture is often synonymous with organizational climate.

Cultural Awareness

Having a conscious awareness and sense of one’s own cultural values, beliefs, attitudes, experiences and perceptions, as well as those of other groups.

Cultural Competence

A process of learning that leads to an ability to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by the presence of social cultural diversity in a defined social system; the state of having and applying knowledge and skill in four areas: awareness of one's own cultural worldview; recognition of one's attitude toward cultural differences; realization of different cultural practices and worldviews; and thoughtfulness in cross-cultural interaction.

Over an extended period, individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to: examine critically (interrogate) how cultural worldviews influence perceptions of power, dominance and inequity; and behave honorably within the complex dynamics of differences and commonalities among humans, groups and systems.


Conduct that excludes an individual from participation, denies the individual benefits, treats the individual differently or otherwise adversely affects the individual’s participation based on an actual or perceived protected characteristic.


The range of identities, social and cultural backgrounds, perspectives, ideologies and differences that occur among individuals and groups. Diversity includes individual differences (e.g., personality, learning preferences and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, country of origin and ability as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations).

Dominant Culture

The cultural values, beliefs and practices that are assumed to be the most common and influential within a given society.


Personalized experiences and responses for the goal of providing everyone with what they need to thrive. This concept includes fairness and justice in outcomes, in action-oriented behaviors and in practice.


A demonstrated awareness of and willingness to: address equity issues among institutional leaders, faculty, staff and students; take stock of the contradictions between the ideals of democratic education and the social, institutional and individual practices, as well as policies, expectations and unspoken rules, that contribute to persistent inequalities in outcomes among different groups; and acknowledge the socio-historical context of exclusionary practices, racism and the effect of power asymmetries on opportunities and outcomes for those who are underserved, underrepresented or marginalized.

Gender Identity

A person’s inner experience of who they are in terms of gender. A person’s deep, personal sense of being male, female, a blend of both (nonbinary or gender queer) or neither (agender).


Unwanted and offensive conduct based on a protected characteristic (e.g., intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating behavior).

Hate Crime

A criminal act — such as vandalism, arson, assault or murder — committed against a person or people because of their real or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, age, gender or other protected status. Hate crime laws typically increase the punishment for the underlying criminal act on the grounds that the act was motivated by bias. The Texas Hate Crimes Act, Chapter 411.046 of the Texas Government Code, defines hate crimes as crimes that are motivated by prejudice, hatred or advocacy of violence including, but not limited to, incidents for which statistics are or were kept under Public Law 101-275 (the Federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act). The federal law further defines hate crimes as crimes that show evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity, and added in 1997, disability.


The belief in the inherent superiority of one pattern of loving and thereby its right to dominance (Lorde, 1978).


The fear of feelings of love for members of one’s own sex and therefore the hatred of those feelings in others (Lorde, 1978).


The characteristics and qualities of a person, considered collectively, and regarded as essential to that person’s experiences and self-concept. Also termed personal identity.

(Implicit) Bias

The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions unconsciously. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without the individual’s awareness or intentional control (unconsciously).


Reflects the efforts and outcome of individuals from varied backgrounds being invited and feeling welcomed and a sense of belonging in a variety of settings and activities.


An inclusive yet nonexhaustive acronym in celebration and acknowledgement of members within the lesbian (L), gay (G), bisexual (B), trans (T), queer (Q), intersex (I) and asexual (A) community. The acronym is a fluid umbrella term. It is specific yet nonexhaustive of various gender, agender identities and sexual orientations. For example, neither pansexuality nor polyamory sexual orientations are included within the acronym, yet they are included within q​​ueer identity.

Marginalized Groups

Social identity groups that are devalued and viewed as outside of the mainstream and cultural norms.


Systematic exercise of power and subjugation that works to privilege one group and disadvantage another.


Prejudgment about another person based on the social groups to which that person belongs; consists of thoughts and feelings, including stereotypes, attitudes, biases and generalizations that are based on little or no experience and then are projected onto everyone from that group.


A right, license or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit, advantage or favor; unearned access or entitlement to something; unearned benefit.

Pronouns (Gender Pronouns)

Identity markers that a person has assigned themselves to reaffirm their name and gender identity. For example:

NamePossible Pronouns

It is important to note that as individuals evolve as people, so too may their gender identity. As loving community members, we must honor and respect all our members by referring to them by their name and pronouns. “Dead names and pronouns,” or no longer used and relevant names and pronouns, should not be used or referred to. To learn more about pronoun usage, watch this video.

Protected Characteristics

Defined as personal traits, characteristics and/or beliefs that are defined by applicable law as protected from discrimination and/or harassment. Everyone has protected characteristics.

Protected characteristics include:

  • age
  • ancestry
  • color
  • disability
  • ethnicity
  • national origin
  • gender
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • genetic information
  • medical status
  • military/veteran status
  • pregnancy status
  • race
  • religion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender status


The belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance (Lorde, 1978).


The idea that our experiences are inextricably interwoven, that what affects one community member affects us all and that we must stand with each other instead of merely on behalf of each other. The practice of solidarity requires honesty, integrity and sustained commitment. Acknowledging the experiences and support needs of all people, especially historically excluded and under-resourced groups, is essential to our collective survival. Thus, we engage in solidarity and community space-building through individual and organizational examination, continuous learning, critical conversations and accountability measures.


Blanket beliefs and expectations about members of certain groups that present oversimplified opinions, prejudiced attitudes or uncritical judgments. They go beyond necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically negative, are based on little information and are highly generalized.

Transgender (Trans)

Of, relating to, or being a person​ whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.​


Irrational fear of, aversion to or discrimination against transgender people; dislike, prejudice or hatred toward a person or members of the trans community.