American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 745–774 | Cite as

Out on Campus: Sexual Orientation and Academic Climate in a University Context

  • Craig R. Waldo


Although lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students often “come out” in university settings, empirical studies have demonstrated that these environments are often hostile toward them. The current paper posits that such hostile contexts adversely affect their educational experiences. Results from a survey of a stratified random sample of 1,927 undergraduate and graduate students on a scale measuring perceptions of academic climate (General Campus Climate) supported this claim: LGB students had more negative perceptions of a variety of campus factors. In addition, a scale measuring perceptions of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Campus Climate found that LGB students were more likely than heterosexuals to perceive the campus as inhospitable to LGB people. Women and racial and ethnic minorities were also more likely to rate the LGB climate as hostile. Finally, data from two scales measuring attitudes believed to influence these perceptions yielded gender, racial/ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation differences in theoretically meaningful directions. Results indicate that LGB students often experience the university in more negative ways than heterosexual students, and that certain campus communities— particularly women and racial/ethnic minorities—are more aware of this negativity and contribute to it less because of their relatively more progay attitudes. Implications for how to improve LGB students' experiences are discussed.

person-environment fit climate university gay lesbian bisexual 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig R. Waldo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IllinoisUrbana–Champaign

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