A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation’s largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds LGBTQ people were four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people to report having picked a college in a different city or state in search of a more welcoming climate (22% vs. 5%, respectively).
Twice as many LGBTQ people (33%) as non-LGBTQ people (14%) chose to attend a college elsewhere to get away from their families. While in school, LGBTQ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience poor mental health, bullying, and harassment.
Using data from the Access to Higher Education Survey, a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 to 40, researchers examined the experiences of LGBTQ people who have attended a four-year college or graduate school. A companion study looked at the experiences of LGBTQ people in community college.
In four-year institutions, graduate school, and community college, LGBTQ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience discrimination and violence. One-third (33%) of LGBTQ people at four-year colleges were bullied, harassed, or assaulted, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ people.
“Despite efforts to find more welcoming environments, many LGBTQ people in higher education face significant negative experiences, which can impact their ability to learn and succeed,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges and universities concerned about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion must focus on improving conditions for LGBTQ students.”
“In this current climate, it’s sadly not a surprise to us that institutions of higher learning have a lot more work to do when it comes to making LGBTQ students feel safe, heard, and equally served by their schools,” said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and CEO at Point Foundation. “Colleges need to make an institutional commitment that clearly communicates support for LGBTQ students. And LGBTQ students themselves must be involved in the process to ensure that policies, services, and infrastructural components are truly effective.”