What is Intersectionality? Intersectionality theory is a way to understand social inequalities by
acknowledging how multiple overlapping social identities impact and oppress certain populations (Weber, 2007). Examples of social identities include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and [dis]ability, among others.
For example, a female student of color who has autism will have different school experiences than her peers who are white, male, and neurotypical. Each category – race, gender, and [dis]ability – places her at higher risk of discrimination or oppression (National Association of School Psychologists, 2017; Proctor, Kyle, Fefer, & Lau, 2017).
An intersectional perspective requires sensitivity, vulnerability, and a willingness to listen to alternative perspectives.
Why is Intersectionality important to DADD? The DADD Diversity Committee seeks to advocate for the intersectional rights and safety for (a) individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities and/or developmental disabilities, and (b) the professionals who work with them. The Committee supports intersectional contributions to the field and commits to educating others on the importance of multiple perspectives of intersectionality in special education.
If you would like to get more involved with DADD’s Diversity Committee, with concepts of intersectionality in special education or in DADD, or get resources to apply these concepts to your practices, please contact Elizabeth Harkins, Diversity Committee Chair firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2017). Understanding intersectionality.
[handout]. Bethesda, MD: Author.
Proctor, S. L., Kyle, J., Fefer, K., & Lau, C. (2017). Examining racial microaggressions,
race/ethnicity, gender, and bilingual status with school psychology students: The role of intersectionality. Contemporary School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s40688-017-0156-8
Weber L. (2007). In Landry B. (Ed.), Race, Gender and Class: Theory and Methods of Analysis.
(pp. xi–xiv) [Forward] Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.