LGBTQIA+ Campus Climate at a Small Liberal Arts University: An Exploratory Study with the Aim of Improving the Environment for Queer Students

Graduation Year



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Research suggests that a significant portion of LGBTQIA+ individuals report that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity play a substantial role in choosing which postsecondary institution to attend; thus, it is incumbent upon institutions for higher education to assess their respective campus climates. This project evaluates LGBTQIA+ campus climate at a small, private, Midwestern liberal arts university. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, I interviewed my queer-identified classmates – selected via a combination of strategic and snowball sampling – about their experiences on campus. Through these discussions, I gained a better understanding of queer students’ experiences within the classroom, extracurricular activities, living spaces, and elsewhere throughout the institution. Findings include a divide between cisgender and transgender or nonbinary participants’ perceptions of campus climate, as well as incongruence in institutional policy and students’ lived experiences. The information I gleaned from these interviews was then used to suggest ways for the university to better serve its LGBTQIA+ population.


Gender and Sexuality | Sociology

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