Diversity Terminology

accommodation or reasonable accommodation – any change in the working or learning environment or the way things are done that enables a person to enjoy equal opportunity.  Reasonable accommodations may be requested based on religion or disability. 


ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act, a law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.


affirmative action – an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of underrepresented groups; a similar effort to promote the rights or progress of other disadvantaged persons.


aro/ace – prefixes relating to aromantic (an adjective referring to the experience of feeling little or no romantic attraction towards anyone) or asexual (an adjective referring to the experience of feeling little or no sexual attraction towards anyone).


bi/pan – prefixes relating to bisexual (an adjective referring to sexual, romantic and/or emotional attraction to men, women and/or non-binary persons) or pansexual (an adjective referring to sexual, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to others regardless of whether they are men, women or non-binary persons).


Black – used to describe a person of African ancestry.


Campus SaVE Act – a law enacted in 2013 that amended the Clery Act to mandate extensive “primary prevention and awareness programs” regarding sexual misconduct and related offenses.


cisgender – an adjective referring to a person whose gender identity is the same as that commonly associated with their sex assigned at birth (assigned male at birth, identifies as a man; assigned female at birth, identifies as a woman).


Clery Act – a consumer protection law passed in 1990 that requires all colleges and universities who receive federal funding to share information about crime on campus and their efforts to improve campus safety as well as inform the public of crime in or around campus.


cultural competence – the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures domestically and internationally.


discrimination – prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action or treatment that can occur between individuals, within groups or systemically within groups or organizations


diversity – the condition of having or being composed of differing elements; variety; the inclusion of  people of different races, ethnicities, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, nations of origin, languages, ages or other lived experiences) in a group or organization.


equal opportunity – providing access to education, employment, housing and other areas of society in a way that is not discriminating against people because of their age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation or veteran status.


equity – The phrase “equity in higher education” refers to creating opportunities for equal access and success in higher education among historically underrepresented student populations, such as students of color, low-income students and first-generation college students.


ethnicity – status of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural traditions.


gender expression – the innumerable ways that people exhibit gender through their clothing, voice, hair styles, body language and behavior; gender expression may or may not be consistent with socially prescribed gender roles and may or may not reflect one’s gender orientation or identity.


gender identity – one’s concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither that can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth; the label people use to acknowledge and reflect their internal sense of gender orientation (or, in some cases, to hide that gender orientation from others).


harassment – to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.


inclusion (with respect to diversity) – the proactive efforts to promote inclusiveness and respect for differences in the workplace and the educational environment.


interim measures and accommodations – as described under Title IX, steps taken to ensure equal access to education programs and activities, and/or to stabilize a situation by providing remedies and accommodations to a reporting student and the campus community where appropriate due to either sexual violence or pregnancy or parenting student status.


intersectionality – a term first used by K. Crenshaw in 1989 to denote the study of intersections between different disenfranchised and underrepresented groups; specifically, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination; for example, being African American and female.


Latinx – a gender-inclusive term that originated on college campuses to replace the terms “Latino” and “Latina.”


microaggression – types of discrimination manifested in verbal, nonverbal or environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages or target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership; related terms: microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation


nationality – status of being a member or citizen of a particular country.


protected class – a group of people who share common characteristics and are protected from discrimination and harassment. Some protections have the backing of federal and/or state laws. UTSA protects students, faculty and staff from discrimination and harassment based on age (40 or older), color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.


race – a social construct denoting differences and similarities in biological traits that take on social meanings in society.


responsible employee – any employee: (a) who has the authority to take action to redress sexual harassment/misconduct; (b) who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual harassment/misconduct or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate designee; or (c) who a student reasonably believes has this authority or duty.


Title IX – a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.


Title VI – legislation passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.


Title VII – legislation passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.


transgender – an adjective referring to a person whose gender identity is different from that commonly associated with their sex assigned at birth (assigned male at birth, identifies as a woman; assigned female at birth, identifies as a man; assigned male or female at birth, identifies as non-binary) 


unconscious bias – also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner.