5 Steps to Create an Inclusive Campus for the LGBTQ+ Community

5 Steps to Create an Inclusive Campus for the LGBTQ+ Community

Since 1969, June has been celebrated as Pride Month which recognizes the achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. During this month, many pride events are held to recognize, honor, and celebrate the impact and contributions of LGBTQ+ leaders around the country and world. In honor of Pride Month, Vector Solutions wants to share five steps on how institutions can create a more inclusive campus for their LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. 

For LGBTQ+ students who are exploring which college or university to attend, it is crucial for them to find an institution with a supportive environment that respects their orientation. Some common difficulties faced by students include: harassment, isolation, labels and loss of personal identity, lack of community and financial resources, and housing discrimination. Much like students, it is important for faculty and staff to feel comfortable at their place of employment. Below are a few statistics to better understand LGBTQ+ students in higher education:

  • In 2018, almost 19% of students identified as LGBTQ+.
  • In 2015, the probability of LGBTQ+ women completing a bachelor’s degree was 25%.
  • In 2019, 2 out of 3 LGBTQ+ college students reported having experienced sexual harassment at least once.
  • 20% of LGBTQ+ college students feared for their physical safety due to their gender identity or their perceived sexual orientation.
  • Over 200 LGBTQ+ centers exist on college campuses across the country.
Vector Pride Month graphic

As this movement continues to gain more recognition, it is important for institutions to create a respectful inclusive environment for their students, faculty, and staff. Below are 5 steps to create an inclusive campus for the LGBTQ+ community:

1) Ensure that Your Campus Is Welcoming and Accepting of All Campus Members

The first step to creating an inclusive campus for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff is to ensure that it is welcoming and accepting to all. Combatting common myths and microaggressions is extremely important when addressing inclusion. Microaggressions are the everyday encounters of subtle discrimination that people of various marginalized groups experience throughout their lives. Microaggressions can either be unconscious: a person doesn’t even know they did something, or unintentional: they may be aware of their actions, but might not realize the negative impact on others. Students, faculty, and staff can combat these by admitting when they commit microaggressions, apologizing, and learning from their mistakes. They can also stop supporting stereotypes and correct people who do. Empathizing more with people who may have different values will create a more inclusive environment for everyone.

You can also increase efforts to LGBTQ+ inclusivity by developing or strengthening policies regarding LGBTQ+ protections, such as non-discriminatory statements. Many colleges and universities are rewriting their policies to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ students. Currently, more than one thousand colleges and universities have nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity/expression.

2) Provide LGBTQ+ Community Members with Valuable Support Resources

Having resources available for the LGBTQ+ community on campus is critical. Institutions can establish support groups, discussion groups, and guidance counselors specifically for this group. Colleges and universities can also create unique awards or scholarships for LGBTQ+ students much like they do for people of color, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented students. There has been an increase in colleges and universities providing gender-neutral facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and dormitories. As of now, over 270 colleges and universities provide gender-inclusive housing. They have also created LGBTQ+ health centers and services.

3) Promote LGBTQ+ Organizations (on Campus or National) and/or Host Events

There are many ways campuses can honor their LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff, such as  sponsoring organizations and events on campus. Promoting LGBTQ+ organizations will allow students, faculty, and staff to meet like minded people. Other suggestions include: hosting seminars or lectures with LGBTQ+ speakers or topics, assigning LGBTQ+ readings in classes, putting on films or plays at campus theatres that highlight LGBTQ+ roles, outreach events, and celebrating Pride Month with parades, festivals, and fundraisers.

Here are some examples:

  • Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota celebrates Pride Month by hosting events such as their annual Drag Show and performances by Coyote Grace and others.
  • University of Maryland is home to The Pride Alliance, part of their LGBT Equity Center, which organizes events such as Pride Prom and hosts LGBTQ+ speakers, Judith Halberstam and Tim Wise.
  • At Washington University in St. Louis, their Pride Alliance group hosts semi-formals such as the Gayla and Masqueerade and speakers like Keith Boykin.
  • In March, the University of Pennsylvania had nearly 150 student athletes participate in the 5th annual Pride Games which included events such as the "drag" race and a food-eating contest.

4) Integrate LGTBQ+ Studies into Your Curriculum

Another step that institutions can take to make their campus more inclusive is offering more majors and minors in LGBTQ+ studies. Fortunately, more schools are incorporating LGBTQ+ classes into their curriculum, but there is still room for improvement. A study found that 29% of students did not feel that their curriculum adequately represents contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals. Offering classes, minors, and majors can help students who identify as LGBTQ+ learn about their questions, struggles, and achievements. It could also encourage students who do not identify to learn more about their LGBTQ+ peers and serve as allies. Institutions can also put more funding into LGBTQ+ studies departments and provide councils to be advocates for students, faculty, and staff that identify as LGBTQ+.

5) Implement Diversity and Inclusion Learning for Faculty, Staff, and Students

Lastly, institutions can administer diversity and inclusion training for students, faculty, and staff. Often, students begin college uninformed about the LGBTQ+ community and do not understand the struggles that their peers go through. In order to make institutions more inclusive, it is important that all campus community members are educated and informed about the different members in society and on campus.

How Vector Solutions Can Help

Diverse and inclusive higher education institutions offer many benefits to their students, employees, communities, and society. It’s important to implement diversity and inclusion  learning, so that all members at your institution can benefit from better understanding and communicating with their peers. Vector Solutions offers diversity and inclusion courses for students, faculty, and staff. Our student courses provide college and university students with an awareness of how a diverse student body, as well as diverse college faculty and staff members, strengthen a campus. It also provides tools to ensure that diversity is embraced on campus. Our faculty and staff courses provide a basic understanding of diversity and inclusion, as well as strategies to help maintain a discrimination-free environment.

In honor of Pride Month, we have added a new complementary Vector Cares Course: Understanding the Basics of LGBTQ+ Identities, which highlights important information to help learners better understand the basics of LGBTQ+ identities. You can access and share this course from our Vector Cares site. 

Preview Our Diversity & Inclusion Courses

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Vector Solutions Diversity and Inclusion Courses (Formerly, DiversityEdu) can help advance inclusive culture with interactive online learning courses powered by a research and skills-based learning approach. Courses are proven to increase inclusive language, attitudes, and are available for faculty, staff, and students.

Contact us for more information