Glossary of Terms

This glossary includes terms and definitions often used in reference to bias and bias incidents. Walnut Hill recognizes that language is complex and the definitions of many of these terms will continue to evolve over time. The vocabulary of gender is fluid and there is currently no universal agreement about the definitions. The working language used here is offered as a starting place for dialogue and understanding and to clarify how we are using the terms. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, does not represent the final or only definition of the terms, and will continue to be reviewed over time.

A preference either for or against a person, group or thing compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Biases can be conscious or unconscious–explicit or implicit. In addition, bias can be institutionalized into policies, practices and structures.

Bias incident
Any hurtful behavior or conduct that targets individuals or groups based on perceived or actual identity. The hurtful act may occur one time or have been repeated over time.

The culture of people in a given geographic region, including their language, heritage, religion and customs. 

A combination of identity, expression, and socialization. It includes gender identity (self-identification), gender expression (self-expression), social gender (social expectations), gender roles (socialized actions), and gender attribution (social perception). 

Gender Expression
How one chooses to communicate one’s gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyle, voice, body characteristics, or other means visible to others. This is our “public” gender. Gender expression may change over time and from day to day and may or may not conform to an individual’s gender identity.

Gender Identity
Relates to an individual’s internal sense of being male, female, both, neither, or something else. It is how we see ourselves. Gender identity can correspond to or differ from the sex assigned at birth. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Hate Incident
An act of hostility directed at or person or individuals because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. They are also known as a bias-motivated incident.

Implicit/unconscious bias
A stereotype or bias that occurs outside of conscious awareness and control and is often at odds with one’s conscious values. 

Are common daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental slights or insults that are the result of an individual’s implicit bias. They are often automatic or unintentional and communicate stereotypical attitudes toward a culturally marginalized group.

Examples of microaggressions include but are not limited to: • Making a comment about a person’s body or hair • Assuming someone of another race is not American and stating “Your English is excellent, I didn’t expect you to speak so well” • Assuming that all Latino students speak Spanish • Consistently misgendering a student after being corrected. None of these examples is an overt or direct attack, but show that the person speaking has made assumptions about the other person.

Nationality/National origin
Refers to a individuals citizenship by origin, birth, or naturalization. 

Refers to the concept of dividing people into categories based on various sets of physical characteristics that result from genetic ancestry, such as skin color, hair, facial form, and eye shape. Though many believe that race is determined by biology, it is now widely accepted that this classification system was created for social and political reasons.

This term refers to the biological, chromosomal and anatomical features associated with maleness and femaleness in the human body. Sex is often used synonymously with gender in American culture. Although the two terms are related, they should be defined separately to differentiate the biological (“sex”) from the sociocultural (“gender”).

Sexual orientation
Is interpersonal and speaks to who someone is physically, emotionally and/or romantically attracted to e.g., homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual.

Socioeconomic status (SES)
The economic or social position or class of an individual or group in relation to others. It is often measured as a combination of education, income, savings, and occupation.

Targeted Person(s)/Group
Individual(s) or groups, who believe or perceive that they have been the recipient of bias in an incident. Any individual or group can be targeted.

This glossary was compiled from existing resources provided by The Anti-Defamation League, Gender Spectrum, the LGBTQ Center at Brown University, and the Title IX and Gender Equity Office at Brown University, Muhlenberg College, and The National Center for Transgender Equality.


v. 12/9/2021