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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Glossary

Language is ever-changing and at BetterLesson we strive to adapt our language to ensure that the terms we use are inclusive and equitable. Here, we list a few of the key terms we use around our work in DEI&B and Inclusive and Responsive teaching practices. The below language guide is constantly evolving and represents our current understanding of the most inclusive language around our work in teacher professional development.


A person from an advantaged group who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their advantage (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice, understanding that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those which they may benefit from in concrete ways.


Focuses on the strengths that diverse students bring to the classroom. It views diversity in thought, culture, and traits as positive assets.


A subjective opinion, preference, prejudice, or inclination that influences the ability of an individual or group to evaluate a situation objectively or accurately.


An acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. (Pronounced as Bee-Eye-Pee-Oh-See)


The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, or ideals of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society. Cultural appropriation can occur with varying levels of intent and knowledge.


The ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one’s own.


An asset-based pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references and experiences in all aspects of learning.


Actions based on conscious or unconscious prejudice that favor one group over others in the provision of goods, services, or opportunities. The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, and/or other categories.


Psychological, physical, and social differences that occur among any and all individuals; including but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, and learning styles.


The right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment.


The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.


A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.


Is the leadership or dominance of one group over another group.


The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate and bring their full, authentic selves to work. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in the words/actions/ thoughts of all people.


Exposing one’s multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a woman with black skin in the United States does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a woman with white skin, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a man with black skin. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.


A mental process that stimulates negative attitudes about people who are not members of one’s own group which leads to discrimination. Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness.


An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and a + designation to acknowledge additional individuals whose identities reside outside of the indicated groups. These terms describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. An extended variant is LGBTQIA2S+, which includes I for intersex, A for asexual, and 2S for two-spirit people.


The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. These can show up at microinsults, microinvalidations, and/or microassaults.


A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from and about them.


Oppression is both the unjust or cruel exercise of power and the effects of domination so attained. Oppression results from:

  • The use of institutional power and advantage where one person or group benefits at the expense of another.
  • The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group.



A preconceived judgment about a person or group of people, usually indicating negative bias.


A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on certain characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification.


Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is marginalized.


The condition where one’s racial identity has no influence on how one fares in society. Racial equity is one part of racial justice and must be addressed at the root causes and not just the manifestations. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race.


A culture focused on proactive counteraction of social and racial inequities inside and outside of an organization.


The process of paying disciplined attention to race and ethnicity while analyzing problems, looking for solutions, and defining success. The application of a race equity lens helps to illuminate disparate outcomes, patterns of disadvantage, and root causes.


The systematic fair treatment of people of all races resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice is defined as the proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes, and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts, and outcomes for all.


A concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of power, wealth, education, healthcare, and other opportunities for personal activity and social advantages.


The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.


The five broad and interrelated areas of SEL competence include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills.


Blanket beliefs, unconscious associations, and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment.


The arrangement of institutional, interpersonal, historical, and cultural dynamics in a way that consistently produces advantage for White people and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It illuminates that racism exists without the presence of individual actors because it is systemically embedded.


Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, and diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.


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