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Intercultural Consciousness

Searching for Diversity-Related Material

The terminology that describes various groups changes over time and many terms that were common in the past have fallen out of use. For instance, the term 'African American' has replaced the older terms 'Afro American' and 'Negro.'  If you search on the term 'African American,' you will find more recent items, but if you are looking for historical documents, the terms 'Afro American' and 'Negro' may return more results. This is true of descriptors for other groups as well. When researching dis/abilities, using people-first language will yield more recent works. It may be appropriate to search using terms that are considered outdated because of historical context. In those cases, attribute the term or note its historic use. For example, “The doctor said he was retarded, a term widely used at the time.” (

Below are lists of some common search terms and their variations for researching diversity issues. These lists aren't definitive, but rather give examples which can be used as patterns in your own searching in the online catalog, in library databases, or on the Internet. 

Keep in mind that terminology for this area is constantly changing, with new terms introduced and others discarded in favor of a better descriptor. If you need help with outdated or updated terminology, ask a librarian using the Ask Me Now button below. 



-- Gender --

abused women, abused men, abusive women, abusive men, violence against women, violence in men

feminism, anti-feminism, suffragists, women’s rights, Women—Suffrage

gender equity (not a subject term-can be searched as words)

men, men’s studies, masculinity

women, women’s studies, femininity

sex differences, sex role, sex discrimination, sex discrimination against women, sexism, sexual harassment

women in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.

transgender people, transgender youth

transgendered people, transgenderism (the terms transgendered and transgenderism are widely considered offensive terms. Materials found using these terms may be materials that are biased against trans people or older material)

transsexualism, transsexuality, transsexuals

Intercultural Relations

-- Intercultural Relations --

Americanization, assimilation, acculturation, immigration, immigrants, refugees
bicultural, biculturalism
bilingual, bilingualism
cross cultural, transcultural
cultural diversity, cultural pluralism (for works on the condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups coexist within one society), pluralism
cultural competence, cultural competency, intercultural communication, intercultural relations
diversity in the work place
intercultural education
minority, minorities
multicultural, multiculturalism (for works on policies or programs that foster the preservation of different cultural identities, including customs, languages, and beliefs, within a unified society such as a state or nation) 

Generational Diversity

-- Generational Diversity --

Older people (instead of Aged, Senior citizens), aging, aging parents
ageism, age discrimination, older people abuse of (instead of Elder abuse), conflict of generations
youth, rural youth, urban youth, Generation X, Baby Boom Generation, Generation Y, Millennials

Political Issues Concerning Diversity

-- Political Issues Concerning Diversity --

Affirmative action programs, reverse discrimination

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Civil rights—disability

Civil rights, minority rights, Gays—Civil rights, human rights

Abolitionists, Native American Party, American Indian Movement, Black Panthers, white supremacy movements

Discrimination, prejudice, hate crimes, hate speech

Segregation, apartheid, Jim Crow, integration

Brown v. Board of Education, busing

Educational equalization, discrimination in education, multicultural education, sex differences in education

Discrimination in employment, reverse discrimination, political correctness

Suffrage, women’s suffrage, African Americans--suffrage



Race and Ethnicity

-- Race and Ethnicity --

Abenaki Indians, Abenakis
African American(s)
Aleut, Inuit
Asian(s), Asian Americans
Chinese American(s)
East Indian American(s)
Inuit, Eskimo (considered offensive but older work may be found under this term)
ethnic groups, ethnic minorities, ethnic identity, ethnic relations, ethnicity
ethnic conflict, ethnic cleansing, genocide
Greek American(s), Norwegian American(s), Mexican American(s), etc.
Hispanic American women, Hispanic American(s), Latino(s), Latina(s), Chicano(s), Chicana(s)
Indians, Indians of North/South/Central America (use instead of First Nations)
Indians of North America -- Tribal citizenship.
indigenous peoples
interracial, race, race identity, racially mixed people, racism, racialism, transracial adoption
Latin American(s)
Native American(s)
West Indian American(s)
Whites, Whites -- Race identity, Women, White
Zuni Indians, Zuni(s)

Class and Socio-economic Status

-- Class and Socio-economic Status --

Class consciousness, elite (social sciences), intellectuals, leisure class, marital status, married people, divorced people, single people, widows, widowers, motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, single parents, children, middle class, paternalism, poor, rich people, social classes, social stratification, upper class, working class, working poor


-- Creed --

atheism, atheist(s)
Christianity and other religions
church and state, separation of church and state
civil religion
freedom of religion
political violence -- religious aspects
religion, religion and politics, religion in the public schools
religious diversity, religious pluralism, religious tolerance
school prayer
secularism, secular humanism
sects -- United States.
…use names of religions and denominations:  Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormon Church, Mormons, and variants
 Islam -- Relations -- Judaism
Anti-Semitism, Anti-Catholicism, Anti-Mormonism


Sexual Orientation

-- Sexual Orientation --

bisexual, bisexuals, bisexuality
gay adoption, gay and lesbian studies
gay couples, gay liberation movement, gay marriage
gay men, gay rights, gay students, gay women, gays
gender identity
homosexuality female, homosexuality male, homosexuality, homosexuals
intersex, intersexism
lesbian couples, lesbianism, lesbians
same-sex couples, same-sex marriage
sex identity, sexual identity, sexual minorities
... add terms to narrow a search: e.g. Norwegian gays, gay Norwegians, lesbian consumers, gay conservatives
…use “discrimination against” and add term



Disabilities, people with disabilities, disability studies, person with (eg. cerebral palsy, epilepsy, etc.), developmental disability, speech disorder

Deaf, person with a hearing impairment, deaf culture, hard of hearing, sign language user, partial hearing loss, partially deaf

Learning disabilities, Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible design, accommodation, Inclusion, disability rights movement, disabilities, people with disabilities, ableism, disabilities, discrimination, disabled veterans, wheelchair user, someone with an amputation

Intellectual disability,  intellectually disabled, mental health disability, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mental health hospital, psychiatric hospital, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic condition, psychosis

People with visual impairments, blind people, blind and partially sighted people, low vision, limited vision, service animal, assistance animal, guide dog 

People with restricted growth or short stature, short stature, little person, someone with dwarfism