American colleges and universities are charged with creating an environment characterized by equal access for all students, faculty and staff regardless of cultural differences, where individuals are not just tolerated but valued. Yet some students find they have unique challenges because of how they are perceived and treated as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Why It Matters:
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campus members find that they must hide significant parts of their identity from peers and others, thereby isolating themselves socially or emotionally. Those who do not to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity might encounter discrimination, verbal or physical harassment, and subtle or outright silencing of their sexual identities.
A heterosexist climate has not only inhibited the acknowledgment and expression of LGBT perspectives, it has also limited curricular initiatives and research efforts, as seen in the lack of LGBT content in university course offerings. Furthermore, the contributions and concerns of LGBT people have often remained unrecognized.
Such challenges can prevent LGBT students from achieving their academic potential or participating fully in the campus community. Likewise, other campus community members, including LGBT faculty, staff and administrators may suffer as a result of the same prejudices, limiting their ability to achieve their career goals and to mentor or support students.
What We’re Doing:
- The Task Force has released a comprehensive report detailing challenges faced by LGBT people on campus.
- The Task Force has published a campus organizing guide with recommendations on creating a safe campus environment for LGBT students through staff training, nondiscrimination policies, teaching respect for diversity and comprehensive sex education.
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