Affinity Groups

Affinity Groups exist to give people who are from underrepresented communities at Catlin Gabel a place where they can have a majority experience. People who meet in affinity groups speak from the I-perspective about a particular identity and follow the community norms* for affinity groups.

Affinity Groups change every so often because they are generated by the community and tend to ebb and flow as people who hold certain identities come and go from the community. Anyone can approach the Director of Inclusion and Outreach and request help in starting an affinity group.

At Catlin Gabel we have affinity groups for parents and guardians, for employees and for students. Our Upper School student affinity groups are by far the most numerous. Examples of Upper School student affinity groups include:

99% Affinity

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)
AQE (All Queer Environment)
Conservative Voices

Desi (Indian Affinity)


Invisible Differences

Jewish Affinity


Middle Eastern Affinity


Transgender/Gender Non-conforming

The Real Indescribable Black Experience (TRIBE)

Community Norms

Honor confidentiality.

Note your surprise and check for bias.

Be comfortable with silence.

Assume positive intent.

Speak from the ā€œIā€ perspective.

Listen to listen, then respond.

Take risks.

Be fully present.

Lean into discomfort.

Be patient with the process of others.

Be succinct.

Do not use names when telling stories.

Suspend judgment of self and others.

If you need to process anything that arises with someone, avoid processing anything digitally. Face-to-face is best.

If you would like to see another affinity group that is not listed, please email Jasmine Love, Director of Inclusion and Outreach.

What are affinity groups?

  • These gatherings are designed to create more connections between families based on specific identity. The goal of these groups is to create a safe space in which parents and guardians who either identify themselves or who have children who identify with a specific affinity can meet, connect, speak openly, and share feedback.
  • The term Affinity Group is used as a bringing together of people who have an identifier in common, e.g. race, gender, religion, family status, etc. Affinity groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and can speak to the experience of being a member of the group from the "I" perspective." - Rosetta Lee

Why are we doing them?

One of the findings of the yearlong AIM evaluation revealed that there are members in our community who do not always feel included or recognized. In response to this, the DAC is working to take specific actions which will support inclusivity at Catlin Gabel, so that all our students and families feel welcomed, seen, and valued. Last fall's guest speaker, Rosetta Lee, shared ideas with our community about how children best form a sense of self and identity, and sparked deeper conversations about forming affinity groups at Catlin Gabel this year. Other independent schools have had success using affinity groups as a way to bolster inclusivity, as well. Some informal groups of underrepresented families have been gathering independently, and providing a space and place to validate their experiences and formalize these gatherings was a logical next step.

White Ally Group? What does that mean?

The term "White Ally" is a broadly known term in the world of equity and justice work. It refers to the necessary parallel conversations and work that need to happen in order for communities to grow together in becoming inclusive, equitable places. White Ally groups engage in discussions about the roles that systemic and institutional racism have played and continue to play in our society, and the collective responsibility that those with white privilege have to create more equitable systems for society. Skin color is but one identifying factor. We all know and recognize this, and at the same time we also recognize that being or appearing to be Caucasian brings with it a privilege in our country's context. The White Ally group is a place for parents/guardians to talk about these complex issues together. At the next meeting, the White Ally group will read and discuss Peggy McIntosh's seminal piece, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. All parents/guardians who identify as Caucasian or with students who identify as Caucasian are invited to join the conversation.

Current affinity groups

  • Parents and guardians who identify as Black/African American or have children who identify as Black/African American
  • Parents and guardians who identify as Asian and Asian American or have children who identify as Asian and Asian American. This group will break out into more specific regional groups depending on who is in attendance.
  • Parents and guardians who identify as Latino or have children who identify as Latino
  • White Ally group: parents and guardians who identify as White or have children who identify as White and want to engage in dialogue about the role of white privilege in society toward creating social equity
  • International group: parents and guardians who were born and raised in another country and are dealing with cultural dissonance in parenting their own children
  • Jewish group: parents and guardians who identify as Jewish or have children who identify as Jewish
  • Parents and guardians who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or questioning or have children who identify as LGBTQ
  • Parents and guardians who identify as multiracial or have children who identify as multiracial
  • Parents and guardians of adopted children
An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

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