Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) college students experience unique challenges related to emotional and physical well-being. College administrators and faculty members have an obligation to meet these needs through effective education. Fortunately, many of these challenges are related, with a common theme: coping in an often hostile, anti-gay, heteronormative world.
One major factor affecting the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals is prejudice. People who suffer from prejudice may have difficulties adjusting to college life and may feel isolation. College campuses are traditionally considered a safe environment for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. However, that safety can be fleeting as individuals who are motivated to hate or be angry due to discrimination and hate speech experience difficulty adjusting to college life.
Another major factor impacting mental health and wellness in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people is internalized sexual orientation discrimination. Discrimination occurs when two or more people treat someone else differently because of their sexual orientation. The result of this behavior can be violent, verbal abuse, and abuse of a sexual nature. Harassment on campus can be particularly harmful, with a single instance of prejudice creating a sense of fear and instability among those who are already feeling unsafe and unwell. Those who experience verbal or physical harassment should seek help from a student support group, a school counselor, or a school administrator. Those who are the target of prejudice may find themselves unable to perform ordinary tasks, and may feel helpless and overwhelmed.
Drug use is another significant issue facing LGBT youth today. Frequently, young people who are struggling with sexual orientation and identity become desperate for a sense of belonging and acceptance from others. After being subjected to discrimination and abuse, some individuals begin to experiment with drugs in an effort to find a sense of identity and significance. Unfortunately, drug use can be counterproductive, causing the student to withdraw from school, lose friends, and cause a deterioration of academic performance in sports.
Mental health issues caused by prejudice and discrimination are higher rates than those associated with any other type of minority group. In addition, LGBT people of color are more likely to experience a higher rate of serious psychological disorders. These higher rates are linked to a number of factors, including lack of education, poverty, higher rates of violence and abuse, lesser access to quality healthcare, unemployment, lower educational levels, higher rates of substance abuse and addiction, racial discrimination, and lesser exposure to beneficial forms of therapy.
The disproportionate number of mental health issues experienced by LGBT students nationwide highlights the need for inclusive, supportive schools that provide support for everyone. Educators must take a proactive stance in educating their colleagues about identity and prejudice. In addition, educators must take steps to remove the stigmas associated with being gay. For example, restrooms, locker rooms, and other areas should be fully gender-neutral. If this step is not taken, there will be an increase in the negative impact of prejudice and bullying as well as the disproportionate number of LGBT teenagers and adults suffering from mental health concerns that are related to this common environment.
HIV/AIDS is also a growing concern for LGBT adolescents and adults. Many schools lack specific programs and curriculums addressing this STD, causing there to be a lag in providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS education and in offering people living with HIV the protection and resources they need. Currently, there is no federal law that requires schools to offer comprehensive HIV/AIDS competency curriculums. However, school districts are encouraged to consider adding these competency programs so that they can provide comprehensive psychological and behavioral health services to those at risk for contracting HIV.
Stigma can impact an individual’s sense of self-worth and confidence. Those living with HIV or AIDS are frequently subjected to discrimination and stereotyping, creating a negative mental health conditions environment. Because there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, there are many individuals who experience emotional distress due to the stigma surrounding their sexual orientation. Adding a STD evaluation and counseling to schools will create an environment where all students – regardless of sexual orientation – will feel comfortable and welcome.
As the experiences of those diagnosed with a mental condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are varied, there is no universal approach to dealing with sexual orientation stigma. School programs can add an educational component to the existing harassment, discrimination, and violence encountered by lesbian, gay, and bisexual (gay) students. The added education will allow students to learn how to deal with emotional health struggles that are similar to those experienced by HIV-positive individuals. Adding a STD assessment and counseling to school activities will assist in the identification and treatment of mental health issues that may accompany stigma-based stigma.
If you, a parent, or a loved one identifies with any of these mental health concerns, it is imperative that you seek professional guidance to ensure that you or your loved one receive the treatment necessary. Being accepted and supported into a same-sex relationship can be a struggle for LGBT individuals. However, being accepted and supported by your LGBT peers is often a key step on the path to recovery and mental health.
Issues that gay and lesbian college students have to deal with can be anything from discrimination at campus events to more serious issues like conversion therapy. This is an issue that many gay and lesbian college students have to face. It can be especially painful for some to realize that there is no way to resolve the issues when they leave college and move into their careers. But, there are ways that gay and lesbian college students can fight back. These issues may be different but they are no less important.
First let’s look at conversion therapy. Many gay and lesbian college students feel that this therapy targets them because of their sexual orientation. There are actually several different therapy programs based around this subject. One program targets those who feel uncomfortable about their sexuality and about their sexual identity. The goal of this type of therapy is for the gay or lesbian individual to embrace their sexual identity and to accept their sexual orientation.
One of the biggest arguments that gay marriage opponents have is that homosexuality is a sin. They argue that a biblical scripture clearly says that homosexuality is a sin. It also points to other parts of scripture that also paint a dark picture of those who are gay. Many gay marriage opponents will bring up parts of scripture that seem to support their point of view, even if the passage in question doesn’t actually say anything about homosexuality.
One of the things that gay marriage opponents often bring up as well is the part of scripture where it seems that God does not approve of gay relationships. This passage in scripture clearly says that men should not marry men. It also says that those who do so will commit adultery. Although these statements may sound rather negative towards those who are LGBT, they are still part of scripture.
The next issue is the idea that LGBT people are promiscuous because of their sexual orientation. Again, this is simply not true. Studies have shown that gay people tend to form friendships and romantic relationships at a much higher rate than the general population. Also, studies have shown that those who are LGBT tend to date outside of their religious communities more than people who are heterosexual. So, to use this argument would be claiming that being gay is a sign of promiscuity.
Another common argument that is made against LGBT people and marriage deals with the idea that the Bible makes reference to people who enter into a same sex relationship as being unclean. The passage in question is found in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. Many Christians believe that the reference to unclean and abnormal behavior is meant to be a commentary on how unnatural and abnormal the sexual relationship was. To suggest that being in a same sex relationship is an unclean act is something that many gay and lesbian people would agree with.
Then there is the argument that a person should not get married because it will only lead to temptation. This argument is not based on logic or fact. It is actually a religious viewpoint that was started in the middle ages by Christians. Today, it is used to justify discrimination against gay and lesbian people.
There are several issues that gay and lesbian college students have to deal with on a daily basis. These issues range from the right way to say no to physical relationships to coming out as a gay man or woman. Each issue has its own unique set of concerns. No matter what your personal opinion is, you should make sure that you are never judged by your sexual orientation. You should always be judged by your actions.
How to make friends in college is a common concern for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. This is particularly true in today’s college campuses, which are more accepting than ever before. An increasing visible minority, gay, lesbian, and bisexual students collectively make up nearly 10 percent of all undergraduate students nationwide. Offering a wide variety of opinions and experiences, gay, lesbian, and bisexual students also enrich college life and culture. Creating a more tolerant and accepting campus culture often helps gay, lesbian, and bisexual students to succeed in school and society.
Creating a More Open Campus Culture. Creating an open, welcoming, and supportive campus culture is important to gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. Oftentimes, the first places gay, lesbian, and bisexual students visit on college campuses are the most welcoming, including Gay colleges, clubs, events, and organizations. Many colleges and universities work with local organizations and groups to promote awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity. Other colleges and universities also welcome LGBTQ students by having specific gender-neutral facilities and locations on campus. These areas and buildings can be a valuable source of establishing a sense of community for gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students.
Creating an Open Community. Creating an open, welcoming, and accepting community can help gay, lesbian, and bisexual students to thrive in college. Often, closeted college students spend a great deal of time away from home, avoiding friends and socializing with others. Because of this, college students may feel isolated, lonely, and isolated in their own campus community. Adding LGBTQ individuals to campus communities can provide a sense of safety for those who are trying to pursue a college degree. By inviting LGBTQ people into the college or university’s social life, it helps to create an atmosphere of acceptance that can encourage a sense of pride and self-worth in gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students.
Creating a Supportive College Environment. Creating an inclusive, welcoming, and supportive college environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students has many benefits for all involved. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students often face more forms of discrimination in the classroom and on campus than other students. Gay-positive campus activities and organizations can be a great boost to any campus’s student body, as well as a direct way to improve the climate for all students. A supportive and inclusive college environment encourages students to feel comfortable and confident about whom they are, what they believe, and how they express their sexuality.
Creating a More Pleasant Campus Environment. Creating a more accepting campus community for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, and queers can be difficult for some people. For this reason, creating a more welcoming campus community for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, and queers requires effort. However, when students see that the school is actively involved in promoting a safer and more accepting environment for its gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, and queers students, they may feel less scared and more confident about coming to the school. Establishing an open and welcoming community for the members of a sexual orientation helps to encourage them to participate and enjoy college life on the campus.
Providing a Safe Space for Gay and Lesbian Students. The addition of a gender studies program to a college or university provides an added advantage for students who would otherwise be scared to attend classes or campus events because of potential discrimination or violence on the basis of their sexual orientation. The inclusion of a program like this also encourages more students who would otherwise not come out to attend classes or parties to do so. Gender studies offer the student a more thorough understanding of the concepts surrounding gender, sexual orientation, and gender roles. Students will learn to think critically about these concepts, giving them increased skills for building a supportive and open community as well as for working in the gender studies field.
Supporting the Rights of Gay and Lesbian Students. Some colleges have adopted policies that are supportive of the rights of gay and lesbian students. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found support for a number of schools when it was fighting for the passage of a hate crimes bill in New York. The bill, which has yet to become law, would give protection to anyone who has been attacked, verbally harassed, or threatened in any manner because of their sexual orientation. NYC College students can take advantage of the support provided by a large number of schools to secure this important legislation. In the process, they can learn how to stand up for themselves and for the people around them.
Making friends in college is a vital process for many LGBTQ college students. While the process may seem frightening at first, it becomes more familiar after just a short period of time. It should be supported by all colleges in order to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting environment for all students. There is no reason why all colleges can’t work together to make this happen.