LGBT College Students Report Facing Greater Harassment, Discrimination on Campus
A new, landmark study of over 6,000 college students, faculty and staff reveals many LGBT people face greater harassment and discrimination than their heterosexual peers on American college and university campuses.
The study, “The 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People,” was spearheaded by Campus Pride and its Q Research Institute. The study, currently available online, will be presented in a special webinar tomorrow and a Capitol Hill briefing with the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus on Thursday, Sept. 23. Campus Progress will join with Campus Pride and the Caucus for the briefing, which will discuss several policy initiatives and recommendations contained in the study. [Full disclosure: This writer works with Campus Pride on various social media, blogging, and communications projects.]
Campus Pride says the new report, the first of its kind, reveals many students, faculty, and staff continue to face a “chilly” campus climate and high rates of harassment.
While lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer respondents said they experienced greater harassment, young people who identified as transmasculine, transfeminine [PDF], and gender non-conforming experienced the greatest harassment and far more than men and women. They also reported more negative perceptions of campus climate.
The study also explored various intersections of prejudice. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer respondents of color were more likely than their white peers to indicate race as the basis for harassment. They also reported feeling significantly less comfortable in classroom settings.
Because of the harassment and reported lack of inclusive policies, programs and practices, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer students were more likely than heterosexual students to have seriously considered leaving their colleges and universities. In fact, with each passing year, as heterosexual students became less likely to consider leaving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer students’ dissatisfaction remained relatively high.
The report also includes several direct comments and feedback from students, faculty, and staff. Self-reported experiences ran the gamut from mostly negative to mostly positive. Many students’ experiences with harassment, especially those students of color, carried over from campus interactions to off-campus situations.
One student reported being fired and refused pay for work at an off-campus work-study program. “My supervisor thought that ‘Latinos steal things’ and didn’t like Native Americans,” the student said. “The school said I ‘caused’ the problem and wouldn’t help me.”
Another student reported hearing regular slurs and derogatory remarks about women and people of color from a professor during instructional time. That student said, “I didn't think anything would get done if I reported it.”
On Thursday, Campus Pride, Campus Progress and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus hope several key policy recommendations will get the attention they deserve. Speakers at the event include Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director/Founder, Campus Pride; Angela Peoples, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Campus Progress; Sue Rankin (Lead Researcher), Associate Professor, College Student Affairs and Higher Education, Pennsylvania State University; and Dr. John H. Oberg, Policy Advisor to the Undersecretary of Education, Department of Education.
Matt Comer is a staff writer for Campus Progress.