Academic and Social Integration on Campus Among Sexual Minority Students: The Impacts of Psychological and Experiential Campus Climate

Abstract

A heterosexist campus climate can increase risk for mental health problems for sexual minority students; however, the relationship between campus climate for sexual minorities and academic outcomes remains understudied. Using a sample of sexual minority respondents extracted from a campus climate survey conducted at a large university in the Midwest, we examine relationships between multiple dimensions of psychological and experiential campus climate for sexual minorities with academic integration (academic disengagement, grade-point average [GPA]) and social integration (institutional satisfaction, acceptance on campus). We also investigate the protective role of engagement with informal academic and peer-group systems. Findings suggest campus climate affects sexual minority students’ integration. In multivariate analyses, perceptions of whether lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people could be open about their sexual identity was positively associated with acceptance on campus; personal heterosexist harassment was positively associated with academic disengagement and negatively with GPA. Students’ informal academic integration (instructor relations) and informal social integration (LGB friends) demonstrated influential main effects but did not moderate any of the climate-outcome relationships. Researchers should further explore the relationships between climate and academic outcomes among sexual minority students, both collectively and among specific sub-groups, and address the role of other protective factors.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Albrecht, D. D., Carpenter, D. S., & Sivo, S. A. (1994). The effect of college activities on grades on job placement potential. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Journal, 31, 290–297.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Austin, S. B., Conron, K. J., Patel, A., & Freedner, N. (2007). Making sense of sexual orientation measures: Findings from a cognitive processing study with adolescents on health survey questions. Journal of LGBT Health Research, 3(1), 55–65.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cammarota, J., & Fine, M. (2008). Revolutionizing education. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cortina, L. M., Swan, S., Fitzgerald, L. F., & Waldo, C. (1998). Sexual harassment and assault: Chilling the climate for women in academia. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22(3), 419–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Dessel, A., Woodford, M. R., Routenberg, R., & Breijak, D. P. (2013). Heterosexual students’ experiences in sexual orientation intergroup dialogue courses. Journal of Homosexuality, 60(7), 1054–1080.

  7. Dessel, A., Woodford, M. R., & Warren, N. (2011). Intergroup dialogue courses on sexual orientation: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual student experiences and outcomes. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(8), 1132–1150.

  8. Diamond, L. M. (1998). Development of sexual orientation among adolescent and young adult women. Developmental Psychology, 34(5), 1085–1095.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2009). Internet, mail and mixed-mode surveys: The tailored design method. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Eliason, M. J. (1997). The prevalence and nature of biphobia in heterosexual undergraduate students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(3), 317–326.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fine, L. E. (2011). Minimizing heterosexism and homophobia. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(4), 521–546.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Friedman, C. K., & Morgan, E. M. (2009). Comparing sexual-minority and heterosexual young women’s friends and parents as sources of support for sexual issues. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 920–936.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Gortmaker, V. J., & Brown, R. D. (2006). Out of the college closet. College Student Journal, 40(3), 606–619.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hershberger, S. L., & D’Augelli, A. R. (1995). The impact of victimization on the mental health and suicidality of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. Developmental Psychology, 31, 65–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hurtado, S. (1994). The institutional climate for talented Latino students. Research in Higher Education, 35(1), 21–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hurtado, S., Alvarez, C. L., Guillermo-Wann, C., Cuellar, M., & Arellano, L. (2012). A model for diverse learning environments. Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 41–122). Netherlands: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Hurtado, S., Griffin, K. A., Arellano, L., & Guellar, M. (2008). Assessing the value of climate assessments. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(4), 204–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hurtado, S., & Ponjuan, L. (2005). Latino educational outcomes and the campus climate. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 4, 235–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kim, Y. K., & Sax, L. J. (2009). Student-faculty interaction in research universities: Differences by student gender, race, social class, and first-generation status. Research in Higher Education, 50, 437–459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co.

  22. Kuncel, N. R., Credé, M., & Thomas, L. L. (2005). The validity of self-reported grade point averages, class ranks, and test scores: A meta-analysis and review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 75(1), 63–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Lundberg, C. A., & Schreiner, L. A. (2004). Quality and frequency of faculty-student interaction as predictors of learning: An analysis by student race/ethnicity. Journal of College Student Development, 45(5), 549–565.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Milem, J. F. (2003). The educational benefits of diversity: Evidence from multiple sectors. In D. W. M. Chang, J. Jones, & K. Hakuta (Eds.), Compelling interest: Examining the evidence on racial dynamics in higher education (pp. 126–169). Stanford, CA: Stanford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Operario, D., & Fiske, S. T. (2001). Ethnic identity moderates perceptions of prejudice: Judgments of personal versus group discrimination and subtle versus blatant bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(5), 550–561.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Oswalt, S. B., & Wyatt, T. J. (2011). Sexual orientation and differences in mental health, stress, and academic performance in a national sample of U.S. college students. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(9), 1255–1820.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Ramos, A. (2000). Sexual harassment at the University of Puerto Rico. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  31. Rankin, S. R., & Reason, R. D. (2005). Differing perceptions: How students of color and white students perceive campus climate for underrepresented groups. Journal of College Student Development, 46, 43–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Rankin, S. R., Weber, G., Blumenfeld, W., & Frazer, M. S. (2010). 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People. Charlotte, NC: Campus Pride.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Reed, E., Prado, G., Matsumoto, A., & Amaro, H. (2010). Alcohol and drug use and related consequences among gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students. Addictive Behavior, 35(2), 168–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., & Hunter, J. (2008). Predicting different patterns of sexual identity development over time among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: A cluster analytic approach. American Journal of Community Psychology, 42(3–4), 266–282.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Roth, P. L., & Clarke, R. (1998). Meta-analyzing the relationship between grades and salary. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 53, 386–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Sanlo, R. (2004 2005). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students: Risk, resiliency, and retention. Journal of College Student Retention, 6(1), 97–110.

  37. Sherriff, N. S., Hamilton, W. E., Wigmore, S., & Giambrone, B. L. (2011). “What do you say to them?”: Investigating and supporting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Journal of Community Psychology, 39(8), 939–955.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Silverschanz, P., Cortina, L., Konik, J., & Magley, V. (2008). Slurs, snubs, and queer jokes: Incidence and impact of heterosexist harassment in academia. Sex Roles, 58, 179–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Thompson, E. M., & Morgan, E. M. (2008). “Mostly straight” young women: Variations in sexual behavior and identity development. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 15–21.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Vaccaro, A. (2012). Campus microclimates for LGBT faculty, staff, and students: An exploration of the intersections of social identity and campus roles. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 49(4), 429–446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Wernick, L. J., Dessel, A., Kulick, A., & Graham, L. F. (2013a). LGBTQQ youth creating change: Developing allies against bullying through performance and dialogue. Children & Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1576–186.

  43. Wernick, L. J., Kulick, A., & Inglehart, M. H. (2013b). Factors predicting student intervention when witnessing anti-LGBTQ harassment: The influence of peers, teachers, and climate. Children & Youth Services Review, 35(2), 296–301.

  44. Wernick, L. J., Kulick, A., & Woodford, M. R. (2014a). How theater within a transformative organizing framework cultivates individual and collective empowerment among LGBTQQ youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(7), 838–853.

  45. Wernick, L. J., Woodford, M. R., & Kulick, A. (2014b). LGBTQQ youth using participatory action research and theater to effect change: Moving adult decision-makers to create youth-centered change. Journal of Community Practice, 22(1–2), 47–66.

  46. Woodford, M. R., Han, Y., Craig, S., Lim, C., & Matney, M. (2013a). Discrimination and mental health among sexual minority college students: The type and form of discrimination does matter. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 18(2), 142–163.

  47. Woodford, M. R., Howell, M. L., Kulick, A., & Silverschanz, P. (2013b). Heterosexual male undergraduates and the perpetuation of sexual orientation microaggressions on campus: “That’s so gay!”. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(2), 416–435.

  48. Woodford, M. R., Howell, M. L., Silverschanz, P., & Yu, L. (2012). “That’s so gay!” Examining the covariates of hearing this expression among gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students. Journal of American College Health, 60(6), 429–434.

  49. Woodford, M. R., Kulick, A., Sinco, B., & Hong, J. (2014). Contemporary heterosexism on campus and psychological distress among LGBQ students: The mediating role of self-acceptance. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(5), 519–529.

  50. Yost, M. R., & Gilmore, S. (2011). Assessing LGBTQ campus climate and creating change. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(9), 1330–1354.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank the participants and the members of the advisory committee. This study was supported by the National Center for Institutional Diversity and the Curtis Center, both at the University of Michigan.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael R. Woodford.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Woodford, M.R., Kulick, A. Academic and Social Integration on Campus Among Sexual Minority Students: The Impacts of Psychological and Experiential Campus Climate. Am J Community Psychol 55, 13–24 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-014-9683-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual
  • Campus climate
  • Heterosexism
  • Academic performance
  • Resilience
  • College students