Affinity groups are a gathering of people that share a similar identity. Informal affinity groups already exist at OES. When children are on a sports team they share the common experience of playing a sport together; their team is an affinity group. Children in first grade are in an age-based affinity group. Formal identity-based student affinity groups supported by the Oregon Episcopal School Office of Equity & Inclusion are based on:
- gender identity
- socio-economic status
OES affinity groups support members of our community whose identities have been underrepresented or minoritized based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender , gender identity or expression, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, to provide a space for renewal, dialogue, reflection, and action.
Sociological research shows that when people are underrepresented in an environment they can experience less of a sense of belonging. Although members of the group may share a common identity, such as gender or race, it does not mean that everyone in that group shares the same experience. Rather, participants recognize that their identity has an effect on the way they move through the world. Research and best practices show that affinity groups can be a strategic tool to support people from underrepresented groups and help them to thrive.
Importance of Affinity Groups
Affinity groups are created to support identity development, cultivate leadership, and build community. These are places where students and adults can develop a better understanding of how their own identity shapes their experiences. By becoming firmly rooted in their own identity, community members are in a much better position to understand other people’s experiences. Research supports affinity groups as a necessary element for the healthy development of individuals and organizations.
Affinity Group Meetings
During opt-in meetings, students and adults gather to to share personal experience, learn about their culture, reflect on their own identity development, and to support each other in addressing issues that arise for members of their self-identified community. Facilitators create a structure for the gathering. This can include asking a check in question or facilitating a community building activity, posing questions to members of the group for discussion. Affinity groups are flexible and based in the intent to gather to offer mutual support and support all participants being heard.
Allyship & Alliance Groups
Allyship or alliance groups are groups that are open to people that have similar identities as well as allies (those that would like to act to support those who have an identity they do not share).