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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Glossary of Terms

The purpose of this page is to provide a reference guide of terms and definitions that are critical in our shared efforts across the Eau Claire Area School District to advance our commitment to "eliminating the systemic racism present in our society and schools while building an equitable and inclusive school community" (ECASD Equity Statement, 2021).
An important note regarding any terms and definitions related to equity, diversity, and inclusion—including those provided below. Definitions lack nuance and context, and caution should always be taken to ensure that we do not get trapped in the rigidity of those definitions.

Moreover, this list is not fully exhaustive, but it highlights key terms informed by the Equity Steering Committee to help individuals engage in meaningful dialogue and actions that will lead to an equitable education for all students in our district.

As such, this glossary is a living document and will be reviewed and updated annually to reflect the evolution of our understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Terms & Definitions


Ally - A person who is actively supportive of historically underserved populations through their words, actions, and commitment.

Anti-Bias - Identifying and actively taking steps to change values, policies, and practices that promote prejudice for or against a certain group and people within that group. 

Anti-Racism - Identifying and actively taking steps to change values, policies, and practices that uphold systemic racism.

Bias - Cognitive categorization that informs prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another. (Wisconsin DPI, 2022) 

BIPOC (pronounced bye-pock) - An acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is an acronym specific to the United States, and is used to acknowledge and reinforce the fact that not all people of color have the same experiences.

Culturally Responsive Practices - An approach to teaching that recognizes the value of learners’ cultural beliefs and practices and draws upon them to inform instruction, enhance learner self-advocacy, and bridge learners’ home and school experiences. (Wisconsin DPI, 2022)

Discrimination - Unjust and prejudicial treament of people and/or social groups based on a legally protected social identity. Discrimination can take place at an individual level (i.e. one person is negatively treated based on the individual's protected identity), as well as at an institutional level (i.e. patterns of negatively inequitable outcomes based on a group social identity).

Diversity – The range of human differences, which encompass all different characteristics that make one person or group different from one another. There are many kinds of diversity, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, country of origin, education, religion, geography, physical, or cognitive abilities. Valuing diversity means recognizing differences between people, acknowledging that these differences are a valued asset, and striving for diverse representation as a critical step towards equity. (National Education Association, 2021)

Educational Equity (also Equity) – Educational equity means that every student has access to the resources and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education, across race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, sexual orientation, family background, and/or family income. (Wisconsin DPI, 2022)

Equality - The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Also, where every individual receives the same exact treatment, resources, tools, etc.

Equity Lens – The intentional way in which information is organized, understood, and used in order to be deliberately considerate and inclusive of the unique history, needs, and perspectives of populations that have been historically excluded and/or marginalized. (Operational definition informed by--Center for Nonprofit Advancement, 2020; Multnomah County, 2014; Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, 2021; School of Public Health, 2021)

Ethnicity – A socially constructed grouping of people based on culture, tribe, language, national heritage, and/or religion. It is often used interchangeably with race and/or national origin, but should be instead considered as an overlapping, rather than identical, category. (National Education Association, 2021)

Framework – A visual representation of an abstract concept, which shows how different ideas are interconnected and related. Frameworks are often used to help guide the way an organization operates or functions.

Identity or Social Identity – All aspects that make a person who they are including, but not limited to:  race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, ability status, language, religion, and marital status. Aspects of culture combine to provide a sense of identity, a history of how a person or group experience interactions with society. (Wisconsin DPI, 2022)

Inclusion – Creating environments where people can feel respected, welcome, and valued. More than simply diversity and quantitative representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation, with a true sense of belonging and full access to opportunities. (National Education Association, 2021)

Individual Education Program (IEP) – A written statement and plan for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised by a team of people, including the student's family, that outlines an educational plan for the student. (Wisconsin DPI, 2022)

LGBTQ - An acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans/Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.

Microaggression - 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. (Sue, et. Al, 2007)

Privilege - Unearned advantages available to a group of people (or individuals within that group). Privilege also exists when the values, beliefs, and practices of a particular culture or social identity is protected and given prioritized access and influence to resources, spaces, and experiences. 

Race – A socially constructed categorization of people based on physical characteristics and physical variation. (National Education Association, 2021)

Racism - A belief that race, as a social identity, is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Racism can be individual behavior or attitudes that reflect this belief. Racism also includes the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another.

Systemic Racism (also Institutional Racism) – The historic interplay of racist institutional policies and practices which perpetuate the larger systemic inequities that harm communities of color, resulting in the inequities present today.