LGBTQ policies and resources on campus and the experiences and psychological well-being of sexual minority college students: Advancing research on structural inclusion

Michael R. Woodford, Alex Kulick, Jason C. Garvey, Brandy R. Sinco, Jun Sung Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among sexual minority (LGBQ+) college students, research suggests that experiencing heterosexist discrimination can contribute to poor psychological well-being. Institutional policies and resources can also affect students' well-being and experiences, but structural-level factors have received little empirical attention among this population. We present the results of a cross-sectional study that investigates the association between campus-based structural factors and the experiences and psychological well-being of cisgender LGBQ+ college students. Participants (n = 268, 58% undergraduates; 25% students of color; 62% gay/lesbian) from 58 colleges completed an anonymous online survey addressing experiential heterosexism and psychological well-being. Based on information available on each college's website/ staff interviews, we documented the existence of 11 policies and institution- or student-operated resources/programs designed to promote the inclusion and well-being of sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQ). Combining survey and objective data, we examined participants' experiences of heterosexist discrimination (victimization, microaggressions), psychological distress (perceived stress, anxiety), and self-acceptance (self-esteem, pride) and associations with each LGBTQ-related policy and resource. Structural equation modeling results suggest nondiscrimination policies inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation (vs. only sexual orientation), offering at least one for-credit LGBTQ course, and a higher ratio of LGBTQ student organizations to the student population were directly associated with participants reporting lower levels of discrimination, which was associated with less distress and higher self-acceptance. The results underscore the importance of particular structural initiatives on campus in protecting LGBQ+ collegians from discrimination. The findings also highlight the value of studying specific structural initiatives when investigating structural stigma and inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-456
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Campus climate
  • Mental health
  • Minority stress
  • Policy
  • Structural stigma/inclusion

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