Goldberg, A.E. (2018). Transgender Students in Higher Education. Williams Institute: UCLA School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Trans-Higher-Ed-Aug-2018.pdf
Experiences of harassment and bullying within the higher educational setting may be preceded by even worse treatment in secondary school. Estimates indicate that as many as 75% of trans students report feeling unsafe in high school because of their gender expression, and 50% of trans students report being prevented (e.g., by school officials) from using the name or pronoun that match their gender, highlighting how structural and interpersonal forms of stigma intersect (Movement Advancement Project & GLSEN, 2017). National survey data suggest high rates of harassment (78%) and physical assault (35%) perpetrated against trans students during grade school (i.e., K-12), causing nearly one in six students to leave school (Grant et al., 2017).3
In turn, many trans students—especially those who were out as trans in high school—may begin college with a history of victimization. College has the capacity to reinforce the gendered and transphobic treatment that many students have already experienced in school and in society, leading to poor academic and psychosocial outcomes; or, to support and empower these students (who already show signs of resilience, in that they have completed high school and enrolled in college), thus enhancing academic and personal success. For students who were not out as trans in high school, college can play an important role in facilitating gender identity exploration—such as by providing the supports and resources needed to allow students to navigate this process while staying in college.
The report reviews previous research and presents new findings from interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with transgender students. It provides recommendations for institutions of higher education regarding the creation of transgender-inclusive communities.
Greathouse, M. (2018). It Doesn’t Always Get Better for Queer-Spectrum and Trans-Spectrum College Students. Higher Education Today. American Council on Education. https://www.higheredtoday.org/2018/06/06/doesnt-always-get-better-queer-spectrum-trans-spectrum-college-students/
This analysis, including findings relevant to campus climate, academic engagement, and overall health, spans 918 four-year colleges and universities, representing survey responses from 66,208 queer-spectrum students and 6,976 trans-spectrum students. The most notable findings from this analysis, which are the focus of this blog post, are relevant to disparities in mental health, self-injury, and suicidal ideation.
Ivory, B. (2005). LGBT Students in Community College: Characteristics, Challenges, and Recommendations. New Directions for Student Services. Vol. 111, 61-69. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.174
Due to the transitory nature of students at community colleges, it is often difficult for student affairs professionals to connect with LGBT students and even more difficult for them to provide services for this invisible population.
Kassing, F., T.Casanova, J.A.Griffin, E.Wood, L.M. Stepleman (2020). The Effects of Polyvictimization on Mental and Physical Health Outcomes in an LGBTQ+ Sample.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 34, Iss 1, 161-171. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22579
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) individuals are at elevated risk for violent victimization and often experience increased health disparities compared to their non-LGBTQ counterparts. The present study examined associations between polyvictimization and mental and physical health in an LGBTQ sample. Participants included 385 LGBTQ individuals involved in a larger health-needs assessment of LGBTQ individuals living in the southeastern United States. The sample primarily identified as gay/lesbian (63.4%), cisgender (78.7%), and White (66.5%), and the mean participant age was 34.82 years (SD = 13.45). A latent class analysis (LCA) was conducted on seven items assessing different types of violence exposure. The LCA identified a three-class model, with classes characterized by low trauma exposure (71.4%), nondiscriminatory violence (15.1%), and high trauma exposure (13.5%). Differences in demographic characteristics, perceptions of mental and physical health, and diagnoses of specific health conditions were assessed across classes. The high-trauma class reported poorer perceived physical and mental health compared to the other two classes, with mean differences in past-month poor health days ranging from 11.38 to 17.37. There were no differences between the classes regarding specific physical health conditions; however, the high-trauma and nondiscriminatory violence classes had significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicidality than the low-trauma class, ORs = 2.39–23.83. The present findings suggest that polyvictimization is an important risk factor for poor health among LGBTQ individuals. These results have implications for addressing health disparities among the broader LGBTQ community.
Leider, S.J. (2012). LGBTQ People on Community College Campuses: A 20-Year Review, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 36:7, 471-474, DOI:10.1080/10668926.2012.664084
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2012.664084
In March 2000, an ERIC Digest was published on the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students on community college campuses. It was immediately apparent that there was a dearth of literature on the subject, nor was research being conducted about these student populations. The Digest examined some possible reasons why. This essay examines the advancements that have been made in basic research about LGBTQ students attending community colleges since 1991.
Lipson, S.K., J. Raifman, S. Abelson, S.L. Reisner (2019). Gender Minority Mental Health in the U.S.: Results of a National Survey on College Campuses. AJPM Vol. 57, Issue 3, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2019.04.025
The purpose of this study was to examine mental health status by gender identity among undergraduate and graduate students. Data came from the 2015–2017 Healthy Minds Study, a mobile survey of randomly selected students (N=65,213 at 71 U.S. campuses, including 1,237 gender minority [GM] students); data were analyzed in 2018. Outcomes were symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury, and suicidality based on widely used, clinically validated screening instruments. Bivariable and multivariable analyses explored differences between GM and cisgender (non-GM) students as well as by assigned sex at birth.
Across mental health measures, a significantly higher prevalence of symptoms was observed in GM students than cisgender students. Compared with 45% of cisgender students, 78% of GM students met the criteria for 1 or more of the aforementioned mental health outcomes. GM status was associated with 4.3 times higher odds of having at least 1 mental health problem (95% CI=3.61, 5.12).Findings from this largest campus-based study of its kind using representative data with both gender identity and mental health measures underscore the importance of recognizing and addressing GM mental health burdens, such as by screening for mental health and providing gender-affirming services. There is broad urgency to identify protective factors and reduce mental health inequities for this vulnerable population.
Salerno, J.P., M. Pease, J.Devadas, B. Nketia, J. N.F Fish (2020). Covid-19 Related Stress Among LGBTQ+ University Students: Results of a U.S. National Survey. LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health. https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/26375/LGBTQ_COVID_Report_09032020.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
Online survey results reveal that high proportions of LGBTQ+ students in the U.S. are facing basic needs, academic, and financial-related challenges during COVID-19. They are also facing high levels of substance use, psychological distress, and social isolation, and receiving little emotional support during COVID-19. As a result of COVID-19, high proportions are enduring LGBTQ+-related stressors, such as being rejected by family members for being LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ students of color bear the added burden of racial oppression amid COVID-19. Urgently recommended actions for university administrators/leaders are found on page 2.
Salerno, J. P., Williams, N. D., & Gattamorta, K. A. (2020). LGBTQ populations: Psychologically vulnerable communities in the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(S1), S239-S242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000837
In the wake of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the psychological consequences that will follow, it is critical to acknowledge and understand the unique vulnerabilities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) populations in order to provide equitable mental health intervention that reaches these highly at-risk groups. It is well established that LGBTQ persons face social disadvantages and mental health disparities, which may be exacerbated as a result of COVID-19 pandemic trauma and social isolation measures. This commentary highlights structural, social, and individual-level challenges among LGBTQ populations in the context of COVID-19 and proposes prevention recommendations to mitigate the psychological ramifications of COVID-19 pandemic-related trauma among LGBTQ persons.
Sieben, A., Renner, L. M., Lust, K., Vang, W., & Nguyen, R. H. N. (2020). “Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Asian/Pacific Islander Sexual Minority College Students.” Journal of Family Violence, 35(3), 297–303. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-019-00095-7
Link/Abstract Retrieved from Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335821262_Adverse_Childhood_Experiences_Among_AsianPacific_Islander_Sexual_Minority_College_Students
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) remain understudied among people with multiple minority identities. Individuals with multiple minority identities, such as being both a sexual and racial minority, may experience a greater number of ACEs through an intersection of disadvantages. For Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), this juxtaposes with previously reported lower rates of ACEs compared to most other racial/ethnic groups. We sought to determine whether ACEs differed among API sexual minorities compared to others. In this study, we examined whether ACEs were more frequent among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) API college students compared to majority students. We used data from the 2015 College Student Health Survey to estimate the prevalence of ACEs among respondents and compared ACE prevalence between LGB and heterosexual students by race. LGB students reported a higher mean in overall ACE exposure than heterosexual counterparts, regardless of race (2.8 and 1.8 for LGB API vs. heterosexual API, respectively, p < 0.01). The distribution of specific ACEs differed for APIs versus non-APIs, with some significantly higher, and some lower, for APIs than non-APIs. Our findings revealed that significant disparities in ACEs between LGB and heterosexuals exist among APIs, even in the presence of the altered distribution of ACEs when compared to other races. Continued investigation into the unique ACE exposures of sexual minority APIs is needed to eventually inform prevention practices.
Smidt, A.M., M.N. Rosenthal, C.P. Smith, J. Freyd (2021). Out and in Harm’s Way: Sexual Minority Students’ Psychological and Physical Health after Institutional Betrayal and Sexual Assault. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Vol. 30, Issue 1, 41-55. https://doi.org/10.1080/10538712.2019.1581867
In a large random sample of undergraduate university students, we investigated whether sexual minority individuals (i.e., lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals) experienced different rates of sexual violence victimization (including sexual assault and rape) and subsequent institutional betrayal compared to their heterosexual counterparts, and whether such differences may account for disparities in the psychological and physical health of sexual minorities compared to heterosexuals. In addition to differences in sexual assault victimization rates by gender and sexual orientation, we found differences in rates of institutional betrayal. When non-heterosexual women experienced sexual assault, they experienced a significantly higher rate of institutional betrayal compared to heterosexual women. Overall, greater institutional betrayal was associated with greater negative psychological and physical health outcomes in sexual minorities compared to heterosexual students. These findings reinforce the need for institutional reforms related to the climate and reporting of sexual violence on college campuses, and also identify sexual minority students as a population of particular risk for additional harm by their institutions when they need them most.
Citation: Swanbrow Becker, M.A., Nemeth Roberts, S.F., Ritts, S.M., Branagan, W.T.,Warner, A.R., & Clark, S.L. (2017). Supporting transgender college students: Implications for clinical intervention and prevention. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 31, 155-176. DOI: 10.1080/87568225.2016.1253441
This study examines the experiences of transgender college students in coping
with stress in comparison to their cisgender peers. Undergraduate and graduate students
from 73 colleges, totaling 26,292 participants, of which 47 identified as transgender
completed an online survey. Transgender students reported greater exposure to trauma
and higher rates of suicidal experiences, as well as different precipitants to reported
stressful periods and sources of support than their cisgender peers. Implications for
individual and group counseling as well as outreach and prevention to better support
transgender students are explored.
University of Maryland, School Public Health (2020). LGBTQ+ College Students Face Significant Psychological Distress During Covid-19 Pandemic. https://sph.umd.edu/news/lgbtq-college-students-face-significant-psychological-distress-during-covid-19-pandemic
Verschelden, Cia. Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization (2017). This text forms an excellent starting point for community college individuals and institutions because it offers rationale for trauma informed community college as well as a lens for best practices. Verschelden uses the non-pathologizing, non-medical frame of “cognitive bandwidth” to describe ways in which a student’s cognitive availability can be “sapped” or “increased”. Systemic inequality, racism, homophobia, and stereotype threat along with basic needs insecurities represent factors that sap or take away from the cognitive resources a student has to pursue academics. There are ways in which post-secondary institutions can restore or increase cognitive bandwidth by calibrating policies and practices aware and responsive to adverse dynamics that sap including trauma informed pedagogy and practices.
Note: Bandwidth Recovery offers an excellent introduction to trauma informed higher education, and especially community colleges, and would be a great choice for a book group as campuses begin to consider trauma informed. The concept of “cognitive bandwidth” makes for a very generative, non-pathologizing, non-clinical conceptual tool describing factors that adversely impact academic resilience as well as how colleges can positively increase and support the cognitive resources students bring to their work.
Verschelden also offers training: https://bandwidthrecovery.org/
Whitehead, M.A. (2019) “Where are My People At?”: A Community Cultural Wealth Analysis of How Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community College Students of Color Access Community and Support, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 43:10-11, 730-742,
Previous studies about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and similarly-identified (LGBTQ+) college students have overwhelmingly centered White students and students attending four-year institutions. However, the literature suggests that community colleges – which tend to enroll higher percentages of students from minoritized racial and ethnic groups – may provide fewer LGBTQ+-specific resources to students than four-year institutions. Using community cultural wealth as a conceptual framework, this case study explored the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Students of Color attending a community college in accessing community and support. Specifically, I sought to understand how these experiences connected to participants‘ use of cultural capital. For this study, I conducted interviews with seven self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual Students of Color. Data analysis was guided by attention to the forms of cultural capital participants used in accessing community and support. Findings from the study describe how participants used social capital and navigational capital to access community, support, and needed resources. I conclude with specific recommendations for community college practices.