03:35 AM

Ohio State University researchers study student LGBTQ population

Ohio State University researchers have undertaken the most robust known study of its kind at a single university to find out what resources and programs lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and questioning (Q) students need to be successful.

For the study, Exploring Wellbeing to Support Success of LGBTQQ Students at The Ohio State University, researchers engaged nearly 750 students and more than 130 personnel across campuses to ask about what students need to ensure their well-being and academic achievement.

Recommendations resulting from the study address a wide range of areas, such as curriculum; development of LGBTQ-inclusive policies; creation of safe, inclusive spaces; developing programs, events and support for LGBTQ graduate and professional students; and increased LGBTQ visibility and outreach.

“While LGBTQ students have become more visible and accepted as part of the diversity spectrum, little research has been done at Ohio State or anywhere in higher education that directly seeks to understand the perceptions, experiences and needs of this marginalized group within its student body,” said Tamara Davis, lead author of the study and an associate professor of social work.

The report and its recommendations have been presented to university officials, and working groups are being formed to address the key recommendations.

Nationally and at Ohio State, outreach to sexual and gender minority students is increasing. According to Davis and her co-authors “since the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi in 2010, more and more campuses are committing resources to the development of student life and other campus programming focused on LGBTQ students. However, without data to inform planning, programmatic efforts often evolve from ideas and guidance of LGBTQ and allied staff, faculty and others in the local community.”

The research team sought to gather responses to inform planning, resourcing, programming, policies and outreach initiatives for the university. They used a research approach called concept mapping, a process to conceptualize ideas around a specific construct or topic of interest. Respondents initially submitted over 1,000 statements of need, which were distilled into 124 specific unique statements across 15 topical areas.

“The assessment told us a lot about the concrete resources that are needed but also about things such as structural or policy changes,” said Davis.

Davis says it is clear from the data that while Ohio State is already engaged in efforts to support the well-being of its LGBTQ students, there are specific areas of need calling for development or enhancement. The findings complement emerging research identifying disparities and inequities experienced by LGBTQ populations across the dimensions of wellness.

The university has been recognized byCampus Pride as one of the nation’s top 50 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.

The study’s research team consisted of Davis and Susan Saltzburg, also an associate professor in the College of Social Work, Angie Wellman, LGBTQ intercultural specialist in the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center, and Tayo Clyburn, executive director for mission and strategic partnerships in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Davis and Saltzburg recently presented the findings at the Society for Social Work and Research conference in New Orleans, and say research at other universities has found that the needs and issues of LGBTQ students are very similar.

Contact: Frankie Jones-Harris, 614-292-3540, jones-harris.1@osu.edu.