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April 09, 2024

Point Foundation - The National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund

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How to Support LGBTQ Students on Campus in 2024

April 09, 2024
Point Foundation - The National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund

LGBTQ students on campuses around the United States are facing more anti-LGBTQ sentiment than seen in years. In the face of violence, mistreatment, and growing oppressive legislation, some Point Foundation Scholars spoke out about what their colleges, universities, and schools can do to support them and their success in college.

“In a cultural moment when LGBTQ identity is being policed, silenced, and erased in education, it's important to have LGBTQ voices in higher education,” said Robyn Tomiko (she/they), a Flagship Scholar with a Kevin Hummer Scholarship. “Without LGBTQ presence and perspective, our community risks further erasure, misinterpretation, and oppression.”

The Current Environment for LGBTQ Students 

As states around the nation pass anti-LGBTQ legislation affecting people inside and out of the classroom, LGBTQ students on campuses nationwide continue to fight for their rights and better services in places of higher learning. 

Anti-LGBTQ laws passed in 2023 are now taking effect in states, removing diversity, equity, and inclusion funding in higher education, silencing academic and personal conversations about LGBTQ identities and history, making it illegal for students to compete in sports, and stopping life-saving healthcare. Still more anti-LGBTQ legislation is being considered in 2024.

“It feels as though conditions for Texas (and all Southern) queer folk are only getting worse as time goes on,” said Point Alum Fox Ostrowski-Guevara (they/he). “Queer colleagues of mine, all native Texans like myself, have been evacuating the state as legislation and attitudes become more hostile.” 

Even before this new wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students already reported worse mental health, more harassment and mistreatment, and $14,500 more in debt than their non-LGBTQ peers.

What Schools Can Do to Support LGBTQ Students

With so many burdens and hurdles in the way of academic success, a few Point Foundation Scholars rated what campuses can do to support LGBTQ students. LGBTQ students who responded range from university students in doctoral programs to students in community college programs. Of ten common practices, these students prioritized ways campuses can support LGBTQ students:

  1. Policies that protect LGBTQ students, staff, and administrators. - Most students said protective policies that help secure the safety of LGBTQ students, including anti-bullying and harassment policies, are the most impactful. Students share the best ways to change school policy in this guide
  2. LGBTQ representation in staff, faculty, and administrators - Students want to see and work with successful campus leadership representing their intersectional identities.  This includes providing intersectional mentors and counselors to work with students. Picking more LGBTQ and diverse staff may include letting students have a role in hiring.
  3. Staff training + LGBTQ housing - Sharing the third spot in the top ten services campuses can provide is staff diversity and sensitivity training and LGBTQ-accessible housing. 
  4. Appropriate bathrooms - All-gender accessible bathrooms are the fourth priority among Point student respondents.
  5. LGBTQ Student group support - Campus support for student groups and clubs was the fifth most important thing for supporting students on campus.
  6. LGBTQ campus centers - Students ranked support centers and safe spaces as the sixth-most impactful for LGBTQ students’ well-being on campus. This included mental health services geared toward LGBTQ and intersectional identities.
  7. LGBTQ-related academic offerings + student inclusion messaging - Students sought academic resources and classes that delve into LGBTQ issues, history, and culture. Students also prioritized inclusive representation in campus marketing, such as LGBTQ student recruitment material.
  8. Sports access - According to the student respondents, making sports accessible to all students has the lowest impact compared to the other nine options.

In addition to these common services and resources, students said there were more ways campuses can support LGBTQ students, including: 

  • Diverse and inclusive admission criteria.
  • Providing intersectional mentors and counselors.
  • Create diverse and inclusive admission criteria.
  • Hiring more LGBTQ and diverse staff or letting students have a role in hiring.
  • Providing more financial resources for LGBTQ students.

What Universities, Colleges, and Schools are Doing Well

Some Point Scholars say their campus already provides a level of support to their LGBTQ students. Some of the things that these students said their schools are doing well include:

  • Supporting student groups and events.
  • Make gender-neutral bathrooms.
  • Establish LGBTQ resource centers and therapy support services.
  • Develop staff training.
  • Make LGBTQ educational materials.

To support LGBTQ scholars on your campus, discover best practices for working with LGBTQ student activists.

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