In recent decades, the lives of gay Americans have been pushed to the center stage of political and cultural debate. Bearing the brunt of much of this discourse are high school and college-aged LGBT youth. In spite of, and perhaps in response to, the attacks they often experience, LGBT college students are investing energy in campus activities such as queer student groups and organizations. This study sought to identify, through both qualitative and quantitative methods, the factors that motivate students at a two-year community college to become involved in a campus LGBT student organization. An anonymous survey was completed by 31 students with varying levels of involvement with the student organization. Five dominant themes, Community, Identity, Safety, Education, and Civic Engagement, were identified as motivators for ten students that participated in interviewed for the study. In addition, faculty and staff were interviewed with the goal of deciphering how closely administrative views of campus climate matched those of student study participants, with discussion framed by the five motivation themes. The results of this study provide a glimpse into the lives of queer students at a two-year institution, a population that is vastly under-represented in existing empirical literature. Queer development theories and literature that explores topics such as college student engagement, cultural diversity, and campus climate are applied to the study results. The findings’ implications for higher education professionals are presented, along with recommendations for researchers who seek a greater understanding of queer students at two-year institutions and what motivates them to be involved in campus activities that are tied to their orientation and identity.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2016. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisors: Darwin Hendel, Andrew Furco. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 156 pages.
Finding Purpose: Identifying Factors that Motivate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Student Engagement at a Two-Year Institution.
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