Sample Cultural Identifiers

Below is a sample of cultural identifiers to consider as you implement your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Some independent school leaders may recall lists described as the “Big 8” or “Big 17” Cultural Identifiers. The NAIS Equity and Justice Team no longer uses these frameworks because of the hierarchy they imply. Identity salience is personal and social. For example, an individual may describe their size as being a more salient identifier than ability. Someone else may experience national origin as a more defining characteristic than their age. As a social phenomenon, it is also the case that certain identifiers, including, but limited to, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, have been and continue to be subject to codified discriminatory practices, or in some cases deemed illegal. It is common for members of minoritized groups within these statuses to experience institutionalized oppression on a single dimension or intersectionally.

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Socioeconomic Status (Class)
  • Size and Weight
  • Educational Attainment
  • Income or Wealth
  • Academic/Social Achievement
  • Family Make-up
  • Geographic/Regional Background
  • Language
  • Learning Style
  • Citizenship Status
  • Beliefs (political, moral, ethical)

If you have any questions, please contact us at blackwell@nais.org (202) 973-9700.