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Understanding how discrimination can impact on individuals’ lives is essential to prevent potential discrimination within teaching and learning situations and ensure that you are confident in dealing with discrimination issues if and when they arise.

Discrimination is less favourable treatment based on someone’s protected characteristic. A protected characteristic is an individual strand of diversity as covered under the Equality Act. The Equality Act covers 9 protected characteristics.

Our protected characteristics comprise our:

Age Disability Gender
Gender re-assignment Marriage and civil partnership Pregnancy and maternity
Race or ethnicity Sexual orientation Religion or belief


While we can face discrimination because of any of these aspects, it is important that we also identify the links between our protected characteristics or social identities and our individuality and our social situation. Discrimination and exclusion can be multi-layered and occur because of: an aspect of individuality, e.g. some aspect of personal appearance, size, personal likes, etc.; our social situation, e.g. being an ex-offender, being homelessness, being a lone parent, misuse of drugs or alcohol, citizen status or health. It also occurs because of our protected characteristic i.e. being refused a job because of our sexual orientation or limited access to health care because we are disabled.

Thinking points

  • Are you aware of any incidents when you have observed discrimination taking place in the clinical teaching setting?
  • Who was involved?
  • How did discrimination work?
  • What action, if any, did you take?


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