Common Challenges For Gay and Lesbian College Students
For potential college students who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bi, questioning, or queer (gays & lesbians), it is necessary to seek out an education at an institution that has a supportive, accepting learning environment. This means an institution that does not have policies that force students to shun or hide who they are. Such policies only serve to isolate the student from the rest of the world. Such policies also result in students being tormented by their instructors and fellow students.
Being lesbian or gay often creates a sense of challenge and discomfort for many college students. However, there are many common challenges that all students will face. These challenges can range from the everyday stresses of being a young gay man or woman, to more complex issues such as coming out. Of course, coming out as a gay man or woman still poses common challenges for gay men and women.
One of the most common reactions that many students have when they first realize that they are gay is to go out and try to fit in with the “right” people. Often, these students try to join clubs, fraternities, or other organizations that seem to have a population that shares similar interests with them. Unfortunately, this does not work. Many times, these “right” people turn out to be white, male, upper-class males who reject the idea of gay people as anything less than highly intelligent, desirable, and desirable. Some college students even develop a sense of bitterness toward their perceived gender and class because of this rejection.
Gay and lesbian people must make an effort to feel accepted by those who are not like them. This can be accomplished in various ways. One way is to seek support groups within the campus gay community or on campuses where gay and lesbian groups exist. Another way is to take courses with a faculty member or adviser who specializes in education, sexual orientation, or human development.
Gay and lesbian students may also find support by participating in classes or courses offered by outside organizations, such as political action groups or consumer, labor, or student newspapers. While the visibility is not guaranteed, it is a form of support that can build friendships. Gay clubs or organizations are another way to gain support and solidarity, as well as to meet new people and make new friends.
Gay and lesbian college students may face some more common challenges than others. One of these common challenges is having an overwhelmingly difficult time overcoming the internal feelings of alienation, anxiety, fear, and self-consciousness that can affect their mental and physical health. This is especially true for students who are lesbian, since the internalized feelings of sexual attraction can lead to increased anxiety, depression, stress, and physical illness.
Learning to trust one’s own body and reach for emotional support can be difficult for many lesbian students. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual students may also have trouble with coming to terms with their sexuality, their own sexuality, and the differences between being a gay man or a lesbian woman. The education that they receive in school will also likely not prepare them for work or career decisions based on their sexual preference. Learning to live with these issues and dealing with them can help them to move forward, but it can be a lifelong process.
Gay and lesbian college students may face some more common struggles than others, but they are no less important. Education is the key to acceptance and happiness, and should include all forms of sexual orientation and gender identity. Education must reflect the lives and desires of all students, and make them feel comfortable, valued, and accepted for who they are. If you are concerned about your education and want to learn more about how you can get the education you deserve, be sure to take a look at our services for lesbian, gay and bisexual families.