Picture by Alison Lambert
‘The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, sex, or disability.’
The Oxford Dictionary: https://oed.com/
Discrimination happens when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics. This is known as ‘direct discrimination’.
It is also discrimination when an unreasonable rule or policy applies to everyone but has the effect of disadvantaging some people because of a personal characteristic they share. This is known as ‘indirect discrimination’.
Discrimination can be against the law if it is based on a person’s:
– Race, including colour, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status
– Sex, pregnancy, marital or relationship status, family responsibilities or breastfeeding
– Sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
Discrimination on these grounds is against the law in a number of areas of public life, including: employment, education, getting or using services or renting or buying a house or unit. Some limited exceptions and exemptions apply, for example; religious institutions have an exemption of the anti-discrimination legislation that enables them to discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation when employing teachers in their schools. https://humanrights.gov.au
The human brain naturally puts things in categories to make sense of the world. Very young children quickly learn the difference between boys and girls, for instance. But the values we place on different categories are learned – from our parents, our peers and the observations we make about how the world works. Often, discrimination stems from fear and misunderstanding and can result in causing excessive stress and negative outcomes for the individual that can be lifelong.
Chronic stress can lead to a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. Indeed, perceived discrimination has been linked to issues including anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure and substance abuse. The anticipation of discrimination creates its own chronic stress. People might even avoid situations where they expect they could be treated poorly, possibly missing out on educational and job opportunities. https://www.apa.org/topics/discrimination
It goes without saying that people who experience severe forms of discrimination will usually exhibit with low self-confidence, low self-esteem and low self-worth. For the individual it is not unusual for them to think that this is a life curse and they will never be able to view themselves in a positive way. However, through working with a professional, they can support you to update your thought processes and grow a healthy inner voice that counteracts and greatly reduces the effects from discrimination, as well as bullying.