Education Glossary

  • For Educators

Part I. General Terms

The following are general terms often associated with anti-bias programs and resources. Specific manifestations of some of these concepts are defined in Part II of this glossary.

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

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

Bigotry
An unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices. 

Culture
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.

Discrimination
The denial of justice and fair treatment by both individuals and institutions in many arenas, including employment, education, housing, banking and political rights. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudicial thinking.

Diversity
Means different or varied. The population of the United States is made up of people from different places and from diverse racial and cultural groups. 

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

Prejudice
Prejudging or making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge. Prejudicial thinking is frequently based on stereotypes.

Scapegoating
Blaming an individual or group for something based on that person or group’s identity when, in reality, the person or group is not responsible. Prejudicial thinking and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating.

Stereotype
An oversimplified generalization about a person or group of people without regard for individual differences. Even seemingly positive stereotypes that link a person or group to a specific positive trait can have negative consequences.

Part II. Manifestations of Prejudice and Discrimination

The following definitions describe specific manifestations of prejudice and discrimination, all of which are based on stereotypes and/or negative attitudes toward members of a particular group.

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

Ageism
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their real or perceived age. Although ageism is often assumed to be bias against older people, members of other groups, such as teens, are also targets of prejudice and/or discrimination based on their age. 

Anti-Semitism
Prejudice or discrimination that is directed towards Jews. Anti-Semitism is based on stereotypes and myths that target Jews as a people, their religious practices and beliefs, and the Jewish State of Israel. 

Classism
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their real or perceived social and economic status. 

Heterosexism/Homophobia
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people who are or who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). While homophobia is usually used to describe a blatant fear or hatred of LGBT people, heterosexism is a broader term used to describe attitudes and behaviors based on the belief that heterosexuality is the norm and/or that homosexuality is wrong. 

Islamophobia
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people who are or who are perceived to be Muslim or of Arab descent, and a fear or dislike of Islamic culture. 

Racism
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people based on the social construction of race. Differences in physical characteristics (e.g. skin color, hair texture, eye shape) are used to support a system of inequities. 

Religious Bigotry
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people based on their religious beliefs and/or practices. 

Sexism
Prejudice and/or discrimination against people based on their real or perceived sex. Sexism is based on a belief (conscious or unconscious) that there is a natural order based on sex. 

Weightism
Prejudice and discrimination against overweight and obese people. 

Xenophobia
Prejudice and/or discrimination against anyone or anything that is perceived to be foreign or outside one’s own group, nation or culture. Xenophobia is commonly used to describe negative attitudes toward foreigners and immigrants.