Skip to main content

Conceptualizing Digital Campus Climate within LGBTQ+ Resource Center Websites: A Critical Discourse Analysis


The emergence of university LGBTQ+ resources over the last couple of decades indicates promising movement toward fuller engagement of minoritized students in higher education. Despite this growth, LGBTQ+ communities continue to experience marginalization, even on campuses with dedicated services. This critical discourse analysis advances a conceptualization of digital campus climate by exploring how three institutions represent their LGBTQ+ resources through their university-sponsored webpages. We leverage the Campus Pride Index as a lens for understanding how institutional webpages align with best practices and convey a richer understanding of digital campus climate. Findings illustrated the burden LGBTQ+ resource centers undertake as they work to serve their campus communities through intentional partnerships and institutional policies to support LGBTQ+ communities. Implications for research and practice reveal considerations for how colleges and universities may enhance their digital campus climate, as well as strategies for improving practice through purposeful applications of the Campus Pride Index and enhanced digital presence for college and university LGBTQ+ resource centers.

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


  • Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and diversity in educational life. Duke University Press.

  • Catalano, D. C., & Tillapaugh, D. (2020). Identity, role, and oppression: Experiences of LGBTQ resource center graduate assistants. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Advance online publication.

  • Cegler, T. D. (2012). Targeted recruitment of GLBT students by colleges and universities. Journal of College Admission, 215, 18–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. (2021). Find an LGBTQ Center. Retrieved from

  • Fortunato, J. A., Gigliotti, R. A., & Ruben, B. D. (2017). Racial incidents at the University of Missouri: The value of leadership communication and stakeholder relationships. International Journal of Business Communication, 54(2), 199–209.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garvey, J. C., Rankin, S., Beemyn, G., & Windmeyer, S. (2017). Improving the campus climate for LGBTQ students using the campus pride index. New Directions for Student Services, 2017(159), 61–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hackman, C. L., Bettergarcia, J. N., Wedell, E. & Simmons, A. (2020). Qualitative exploration of perceptions of sexual assault and associated consequences among LGBTQ+ college students. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Advance online publication.

  • Hoffman, G. D., & Mitchell, T. D. (2016). Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 9(3), 277–289.

  • Hoffman, G. D. & Pryor, J. T. (2018). Reframing campus climate data to advocate for institutional transformation, praxis, and activism for LGBQQ+ college students. In K. Soria (Ed.), Evaluating campus climate at U.S. research universities: Opportunities for diversity and inclusion (pp. 169–184). Palgrave.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Holman, G. J. (2018). Mizzou student government candidates drop out of race after racist, homophobic twitter posts surface. Springfield News-Leader.

  • Iverson, S. V. (2007). Camouflaging power and privilege: A critical race analysis of university diversity policies. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(5), 586–611.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LePeau, L. A., Hurtado, S. S., & Davis, R. J. (2018). What institutional websites reveal about diversity-related partnerships between academic and student affairs. Innovative Higher Education, 43(2), 125–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, M. W., & Ericksen, K. S. (2016). Improving the climate for LGBTQ students at an historically Black University. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(3), 249–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marine, S. B. (2011). Stonewall’s legacy: Bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender students in higher education. ASHE higher education report, 37(4). Wiley Periodicals.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marksbury, N., & Bryant, E. A. (2019). Enter the twilight zone: The paradox of the digital native. Issues in Information Systems, 20(2).

  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCoy, S. D. (2018). Where is my place?: Queer and transgender students of color experiences in cultural centers at a predominantly white university (order no. 10817628) [doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

  • Nachman, B. R., & Brown, K. R. (2020). Omission and othering: Constructing autism on community college websites. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 44(3), 211–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nicolazzo, Z. (2016). Trans* in college: Transgender students' strategies for navigating campus life and the institutional politics of inclusion. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

  • Nicolazzo, Z., & Marine, S. B. (2015). "it will change if people keep talking": Trans* students in college and university housing. Journal of College & University Student Housing, 42(1), 160–177.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pearson, M. (2015). A timeline of the University of Missouri protests. CNN.

  • Pitcher, E. N., Camacho, T. P., Renn, K. A., & Woodford, M. R. (2018). Affirming policies, programs, and supportive services: Using an organizational perspective to understand LGBTQ+ college student success. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 11(2), 117–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pryor, J. T., & Hoffman, G. D. (2021): “It feels like diversity as usual”: Navigating institutional politics as LGBTQ+ professionals. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 58(1), 94–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rankin, S., Weber, G., Blumenfeld, W., & Frazer, S. (2010). State of higher education for lesbian, gay, bisexual, And transgender people: 2010. National College Climate Survey. Campus Pride.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rankin, S., Garvey, J. C., & Duran, A. (2019). A retrospective of LGBT issues on US college campuses: 1990–2020. International Sociology, 34(4), 435–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Renn, K. A. (2010). LGBT and queer research in higher education: The state and status of the field. Educational Researcher, 39(2), 132–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Saichaie, K., & Morphew, C. C. (2014). What college and university websites reveal about the purposes of higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 85(4), 499–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Saldaña, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.

  • Sandlin, J. K., & Peña, E. V. (2014). Building authenticity in social media tools to recruit postsecondary students. Innovative Higher Education, 39(4), 333–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sandvig, J. C. (2016). The role of social media in college recruiting. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 12(1), 23–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sanlo, R. L. (2000). The LGBT campus resource center director: The new profession in student affairs. NASPA Journal, 37(3), 485–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schimmel, K., Motley, D., Racic, S., Marco, G., & Eschenfelder, M. (2010). The importance of university web pages in selecting a higher education institution. Research in Higher Education Journal, 9(2010), 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2016). Generation Z goes to college. Jossey-Bass.

  • Self, J. M., & Hudson, K. D. (2015). Dangerous waters and brave space: A critical feminist inquiry of campus LGBTQ centers. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 27(2), 216–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22(2), 63–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Simms, S., Nicolazzo, Z., & Jones, A. (2021). Don't say sorry, do better: Trans students of color, disidentification, and internet futures. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advanced online publication.

  • Soria, K. (2018). Campus climate at research universities: 2012-2017. In Krista Soria (ed.), Evaluating campus climate at U.S. research universities (pp. 1–24). Palgrave MacMillan.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Szymanski, D. M., & Bissonette, D. (2019). Perceptions of the LGBTQ college campus climate scale: Development and psychometric evaluation. Journal of Homosexuality. Advanced online publication.

  • Taylor, J. L., Dockendorff, K. J., & Inselman, K. (2018). Decoding the digital campus climate for prospective LGBTQ+ community college students. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 42(3), 155–170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249–283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • van Dijk, T. A. (2015). Critical discourse analysis. In D. Tannen, H. E. Hamilton, & D. Schiffrin (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (2nd ed., pp. 352–371). Wiley.

  • Wodak, R. (2001). What CDA is about – A summary of its history, important concepts and its development. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 1–13). SAGE.

Download references


The authorswould like to thank Dr. Kirsten Brown and Dr. Antonio Duran for their thoughtful feedback and contributions toward strengthening earlier versions of the manuscript.


The project received no funding.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Both authors contributed to the data collection, analysis, and writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonathan T. Pryor.

Ethics declarations

Inform Consent

The authors provide consent to publish.

Conflict of Interest

We have no known conflict of interest to disclose, and we confirm this manuscript is not under review with any other journal, and we have no conflicts of interest to report. Data and codes are available upon request.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pryor, J.T., Nachman, B.R. Conceptualizing Digital Campus Climate within LGBTQ+ Resource Center Websites: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Innov High Educ 47, 587–608 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Digital campus climate
  • LGBTQ+
  • LGBTQ+ resource center
  • Critical discourse analysis