Diversity Dictionary

The dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion is broad and growing daily. This introduces the need for a common vocabulary to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Because of differences in lived experience, words often hold different meanings for different people. This glossary is not meant to be exhaustive, since language is continuously evolving. The main goal is to provide a basic framework and promote dialogue.

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There are currently 11 Terms in this directory beginning with the letter S.
S

Safe Space
refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.

Sexual Orientation
a person's identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are sexually attracted — the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, etc. It’s important to think of this as a spectrum, and something that may change.

Social Determinants of Health
the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces, including the physical environment, economics, social policies, resources, and politics.

Social Justice
a form of activism, based on principles of equity and inclusion, that encompasses a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable, and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency, as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others.

SOGIE
an abbreviation for Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity/Expression often used when discussing the collection of patient demographic data in healthcare settings. Without this information, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients and their specific health care needs cannot be identified, the health disparities they experience cannot be addressed, and important health care services may not be delivered.

Stereotype
a form of generalization rooted in blanket beliefs and false assumptions; a product of processes of categorization that can result in prejudiced attitudes, critical judgments, and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Stereotypes are typically negative, based on little information, and do not recognize individualism and personal agency.

Structural Inequality
systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws, and practices. When this kind of inequality is related to racial/ethnic discrimination, it is referred to as systemic or structural racism.

Sympathy
a feeling of sorrow, pity, or compassion for another person.

System of Oppression
conscious and unconscious, non-random and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice, and other forms of unequal treatment that impact different groups. Sometimes used to refer to systemic racism.

System-Thinking Approach
an approach to social change acknowledging that the relationships between problems and solutions are complex, indirect, and circular. The recognition that interventions can interact with one another to cause unpredicted outcomes, and that people with good intentions unknowingly create and maintain these systems of inequity.

Systemic Racism
a dynamic system that produces and replicates racial ideologies, identities, and inequities, as opposed to individual attitudes and beliefs. Systemic racism is the well-institutionalized pattern of discrimination that cuts across major political, economic, and social organizations in a society.