Why LGBTQ Students Face More Discrimination at College

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Why LGBTQ Students Face More Discrimination at College

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(Photo by Josè Maria Sava on Unsplash)

The situation around the LGBTQ community on a global scale seems to be improving. But at the same time, various new issues start to float up to the surface, as more and more people have started to pay attention to the problems faced by people with different genders and orientations. One of the more worrying trends that have surfaced lately is the fact that LGBTQ people seem to be facing significantly more discrimination in college as opposed to lower levels of education. Many would be surprised by this, considering that high school and elementary school are usually seen as environments more prone to bullying and other problems. However, recent studies have made it clear that this is actually very far from the reality of the current situation.

An Ongoing Battle

The battle between the LGBTQ community and the people discriminating against them is nothing new under the sun. However, it wasn’t until recently that some of the real challenges in this area started to surface, and many have started to examine the situation from a new perspective. Many have pointed out that this will be an ongoing battle to a large extent as well, given the slow rate of progress in some sectors. But the important thing is that the need for change is being recognized, and that more attention is being paid to the situation.

The impact is already noticeable, but it will likely take a while before we start to see true progress in this field. Social media seems to have helped a lot, even though some have argued that it has accelerated the growth of these issues in some circles. It’s true that social media can help propagate some negative ideas just like it can do for positive ones, but it’s also hard to deny that it’s brought people together in many ways that were not feasible before.

Are Recent Trends That Bad?

While some might be quick to dismiss the situation, recent studies have shown that the problem is actually quite startling in some places. A large portion of LGBTQ students experience some form of discrimination over their lives, and it appears that college is a point of particular concentration for these issues. It’s not clear what exactly drives these results and what could be changed to improve the situation for students in these communities. Some have suggested that this is a natural consequence of the fact that people tend to become more open in college in the first place, expressing their true views more openly. And while this can be true, it’s also worth noting that college is supposed to be a more accepting place as well.

Differences Across Degree Programs

It should not be surprising that some degree programs are more predisposed to these problems than others, and this is what most studies have shown so far. What’s somewhat surprising is that degrees in more liberal fields tend to be particularly problematic, at least in some places. Arts students are not as open to LGBTQ people as one would expect, while on the other hand some engineering programs can be much more respectful in this regard. The source of the difference is hard to pinpoint, as it certainly doesn’t seem to be tied to the common stereotypes associated with some of the degree fields that deviate from the norm. In any case, these views seem to be shared by a large portion of LGBTQ students, raising some important questions.

Following a post masters NP program seems to be one of the safer bets in this regard right now for students who want to avoid potential discrimination as much as possible. Most studies seem to point towards it as one of the “safe havens” at the moment, although it’s not clear how long this situation will remain for. Some researchers have also noted that this could make these programs viable candidates for exploring ways to address the problem faced by the LGBTQ community in colleges in general.

The Importance of Local Support

Another factor that has come up in many of the studies on the topic – and one that should hardly surprise anyone – is that communities with stronger local support networks tend to be much less problematic in this regard. Smaller colleges are seemingly better in this aspect, although this also appears to be a highly localized factor. The issue with larger communities seems to stem from the inherent feeling of anonymity and disconnect that they introduce, making it easier to single out students for being “different”. However, the fact that even some smaller colleges suffer from the same problem as well has been an important factor in these discussions.

Startling Responses

And while it’s probably reasonable to expect that most would be outraged to learn of such a strong social divide in an environment like college, the responses seem far more divided than what can be anticipated. Indeed, some people seem largely careless about the situation, and they don’t necessarily seem to overlap with those who discriminate against LGBTQ students. This is another trend that appears to be linked to the specific place of studies, as some areas appear more supportive in this regard, and seem to have some internal mechanisms to deal with the problem at hand.

The fact that some people are careless about the struggles of this community are nothing new, and while we’ve been making some progress in resolving this issue, it’s obviously going to take some time before most people have changed their mindsets for the better. On the bright side, there seems to be a growing trend of shunning these actions and statements in many places right now. Putting pressure on those who discriminate is an effective tactic, and it’s hard to argue that college is one of the places where it can be applied the best, all things considered.

Income Is a Factor Too

Something that’s less surprising is that LGBTQ students also tend to face varying levels of discrimination based on their income levels. This has been known for some time even outside of the context of college environments, but it seems to be a problem that’s amplified in that context. There are several factors which can be used to explain that, including the fact that college students tend to be in problematic situations with regards to their finances in general. But some have suggested that the actual issue goes much deeper than that, and it’s an important one to examine in more detail if we’re looking for a long-term solution to the discrimination problem. Of course, “fixing poverty” isn’t exactly a feasible approach to something like this, but it’s still something worth keeping in mind for those who want to get to the root cause of these problems.

Addressing the Root Cause

And that brings us to an important point. Like every problem, discrimination against LGBTQ students – and people in general – has a root cause. Determining it and weeding out that problem is important if we’re going to progress away from this problem as a society. Unfortunately, this is made challenging by the fact that the root cause of the problem can be highly localized in nature, with some communities suffering from their own specific individual problems. Large-scale statistics are important in this regard, because they can uncover some patterns which may be difficult to spot otherwise. A lot of research is already being done in this direction, but we’re likely capable of uncovering even more in the near future. Certain advances in technology have been an important driving factor in this regard.

Moving Forward Properly

Setting our eyes on the future is important. Discrimination levels are not going to go down by themselves. If anything, we’ve seen a disturbing trend in some circles, where these ideas are being propagated pretty much naturally, and many people don’t even seem to be putting any active thought into what they’re doing in this regard. How is this problem going to be overcome? There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer yet. There is no shortage of suggestions though, and it looks like many people have an active interest in seeing this happen in the long term.

As we mentioned above, analyzing the root cause of discrimination issues as they occur in each individual society is important. This can lead to the discovery of some more pressing problems in those societies in general, which can be beneficial for their long-term growth. On the other hand, it can also help the global LGBTQ community determine how discrimination against them works, and figure out how to address the problem more effectively.

This is the kind of problem that takes a large-scale correction in a society’s mindset to resolve. And that’s especially true in some parts of the world. It’s important to start addressing it in places where the problem is truly prevalent though, and judging by the way things are currently going in colleges and similar higher education institutions, that might not be a bad place to start at all.