Inclusive Language Terminology 

strong institutional environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion fuels creativity, scholarship, respect, innovation, and social justice – all values of our core liberal arts principles and identity. 

Below is a list of terms and definitions that MSU Texas fosters to create an environment that celebrates differences, respects diversity, provides equity for opportunities, and fulfills the potential of everyone. Though this list does not encompass all factors, we hope this provides inclusive language in various areas at MSU Texas. 

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Adaption – an Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) orientation that can shift cultural perspective and change behavior in culturally appropriate and authentic ways.

Acceptance – an IDC orientation that recognizes and appreciates patterns of cultural difference and commonality in one’s own and other cultures.

Accommodation or reasonable accommodation – any change in the working or learning environment or the way things are done that enables a person to enjoy equal opportunity to succeed. Reasonable accommodations may be requested based on religion or disability.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – a civil rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in public life such as employment, transportation, communications and governmental activities. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion.

Affirmative action – an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of underrepresented groups.

Assimilation – a process by which a minoritized group, culture or individuals are brought into, or made to take on the existing culture of a dominant group to resemble their values and way of life. The term calls attention to coercion and a failure to recognize and value diversity. It also can be understood as a survival technique for individuals or groups.

Bias – prejudice; an inclination or preference in favor or against an idea or thing.

Clery Act – a consumer protection law passed in 1990 that requires all colleges and universities to report campus crime data, support victims of violence, and publicly outline the policies and procedures they have put into place to improve campus safety.

Cultural Appropriation – inappropriate or unacknowledged theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. Generally applied when dominant cultures appropriate from minoritized cultures. This “appropriation” often occurs without any real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities.

DEI – standing for diversity, equity & inclusion, DEI is an umbrella term describing organizational values that support effectiveness and fairness for all stakeholders. The MSU commitment to a campus climate in which all community members feel welcomed, valued and empowered to succeed.

Denial — an IDC orientation that recognizes more observable cultural differences (ex. food), but may not notice deeper cultural difference (ex. conflict resolutions styles) and may avoid or withdraw from such differences.

Discrimination – prejudiced or prejudicial, action or treatment that can occur between individual, within groups or systemically within groups or organizations.

Diversity – socially, a wide range of identities. A broad definition includes race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, veteran status, physical appearance, etc.  It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

Equal opportunity – providing access to education, employment, housing and other areas of society in a way that is not discriminating against people because of their age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation or veteran status.

Equity – the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people 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 excluded, underserved, and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist in the provision of adequate opportunities to all groups.

Ethnicity – status of belonging or identifying to a social group that has common national or cultural traditions.

Gender expression – the external way that people exhibit gender through their clothing, voice, hair styles, body language and behavior. It may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. This may or may not reflect one’s gender orientation or identity.

Gender identity – one’s concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither. This is how an individual perceives and what they call themselves. An individual’s identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Harassment – unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that is meant to create an unpleasant or hostile situation.

Impostor Syndrome – refers to feelings of not being as capable or adequate as others perceive them to be. Common feelings of the impostor syndrome include feelings of phoniness, self-doubt, and inability to take credit for one's accomplishments.

Inclusion (with respect to diversity) – the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued as a fully participating member.  An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences, provides safe places for difficult conversations, and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Intercultural competence – the ability to understand and interact effectively with people of different cultures or belief systems from one’s own.

Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) — describes a set of knowledge/attitude/skill sets or orientations toward cultural difference and commonality that are arrayed along a continuum from the more monocultural mindsets of Denial and Polarization through the transitional orientation of Minimization to the intercultural or global mindsets of Acceptance and Adaptation.

Intersectionality – a term first used by K. Crenshaw in 1989 to denote the study of intersections between different underrepresented groups; specifically, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination; for example, being African American and female.

Microaggression – everyday, subtle, intentional or unintentional interactions or behaviors that are derogatory or target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. This is often manifested in verbal, nonverbal or environmental slights, snubs or insults. Related terms: microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation

Minimization – an IDC orientation that highlights cultural commonality and universal values and principles that may also mask deeper recognition and appreciation of cultural differences.

Nationality – status of being a member or citizen of a particular country.

Polarization — an IDC orientation that views cultural difference in terms of “us” and “them”. This ranges from (1) a more uncritical view towards one’s own cultural values and practices couples with an overly critical view toward other cultural values and practices (Defense) to (2) an overly critical view toward one’s own cultural values and practices and an uncritical view toward other cultural values and practice (Reversal).

Pronouns – Grammatically, pronouns are what we use to identify ourselves and others often substituted for our name. Commonly used are “she/her” or “he/his” which indicate the known or assumed gender identity of a person. Some gender neutral pronouns are “they/them” or “ze/hir” [pronounced zee/heer]. Example of Spanish pronouns “she/ella” or “he/el” or “they/ellos/ellas.” Depending on the person and what language they speak, pronouns can change; this is where the concept of sharing pronouns emerges. Some people will choose to use certain pronouns or may opt to use no use pronouns at all, based upon how they identify themselves.

For some, choosing to identify in a gender neutral manner “they/them” may be more reflective of their identity. Example: John is helping me cook tomorrow. They make amazing pasta.

Race – characterization of humans based on shared physical or social qualities denoting differences and similarities in biological traits that take on social meanings in society.

Responsible employee – any employee: (a) who has the authority to take action to redress sexual harassment/misconduct; (b) who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual harassment/misconduct or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate designee; or (c) who a student reasonably believes has this authority or duty.

Title IX – a comprehensive federal law that prohibits a person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Unconscious bias – also known as implicit social cognition, learned attitudes or stereotypes that exist in our subconscious and involuntarily affect our understanding, actions and decisions.