A Study Conducted By The Gay Lesbian And Straight Education Network: Problem Statement Dissertation, AU, UK
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A study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network [GLSEN] (2005) reports that 90% of all LGBTQ students state they receive verbal abuse and 40% report physical harm while on college campuses. Additionally, Schlanger (2017) said that 18% of LGBT students reported cases of rape at school, 40% admit to staying home one or more days a week out of fear, and 60% stated feeling sad or helpless.
Yet, college campuses do little to address the concerns of LGBTQ students. The lack of school policies and support systems contributes to ever-increasing suicide rates, poor attendance, low academic performance, and high dropout rates among LGBTQ students. While college leaders repeatedly state that their organization provides an environment of safety, tolerance, and diversity.
However, LGBT students report discrimination, harassment, and feeling of danger still exist on campus (Kepler, 2020). This is most evident in the Bible Belt, often characterized by its conservative beliefs for devotion to family, church, and norms about sexuality (Worthen, 2018). Researchers have shown that people in the southern states, historically known for discriminatory beliefs, hold the highest negative views of LGBT people (Worthen, 2018).
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Resulting in LGBT college students attending school in southern states experiencing significantly more discrimination, being victimized more often, and having access to fewer LGBT-related support resources. No Policies or support systems to advocate against LGBT discrimination remove the ability for LGBT students to flourish in a supportive environment with many safe and anonymous resources.
The specific problem is heterosexual staff, faculty, and students are often the advocates for LGBTQ+ students on college campuses. However, most of these advocates have minimal skills or resources available (Poynter & Tubbs, 2008).
Yet, with adequate resources and training, these heterosexual advocates make a significant difference by creating a positive culture on campus. Recently Educational policymakers have recognized the need for developing a positive campus culture for LGBTQ+ students. One group of heterosexual campus allies is through the LGBTQ+ Safe Space Ally Program, which helps alleviate prior misperceptions and encourages others to create a more inclusive campus (Poynter & Tubbs, 2008).
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Each University establishing an LGBTQ+ Safe Space Ally Program must develop an extensive training program unique to their campus concerns. While many colleges have developed LGBTQ+ Safe Space Ally programs yet they do not have any professionally staffed LGBTQ+ offices or dedicated resources for LGBTQ+ students (Poynter & Tubbs, 2008).
Often, there are people on campus that are not supportive, are homophobic, or have little understanding of LGBTQ+ people. The qualitative study results will examine the difference in experiences of LGBTQ+ college students that attend colleges with Ally Programs to LGBTQ+ students that attend colleges that do not have an Ally Program.
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