Supporting LGBTQIA+ Student Success

A recent report from the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers University indicates that LGBTQIA+ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers to report feelings of isolation and more likely to indicate that depression negatively impacted their academics. LGBTQIA+ students also reported significantly higher rates of turning assignments in late, going to class unprepared, skipping class, and failing one or more courses than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers. Behaviors such as these are often indicative of larger concerns such as lack of support and/or poor mental health rather than academic under-preparedness. Read the full report.

Actions that can help promote the well-being of LGBTQIA+ students:

Despite the myriad struggles documented in the report, LGBTQIA+ students had similar self-reported GPAs as their non-LGBTQIA+ peers. This is not to say that the discrimination, isolation, and negative mental health outcomes reported by LGBTQIA+ students have no impact on their academic performance; rather, the GPA parity is a testament to their persistence. However, the authors reported that LGBTQIA+ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers to report taking a 1-term break or to consider dropping out, which may indicate that the impact of these negative experiences is more likely to show up in measures of retention, time-to-graduation, and the overall graduation rate of LGBTQIA+ students, in addition to long-term effects on well-being across the lifespan. 

In addition to managing the impacts of negative campus climate, LGBTQIA+ students are also grappling with the disparities in legal rights; for instance, in approximately 25 states, a person can legally be denied a job or fired from their position simply for identifying as LGBTQIA+. Though universities cannot change state and federal laws, we have in our power as university staff and faculty the ability to improve the campus climate for LGBTQIA+ students and mitigate the negative impacts of many of the disparities LGBTQIA+ people are likely to experience.

Learn more about gaps in LGBTQIA+ undergraduate experiences in higher education