Adjusting to college life is a difficult proposition for many high school graduates today. When you compound that challenge with the issues surrounding students of a sexual minority, the adjustment phase becomes even more complex. Many LGBT students face bigotry from peers and faculty, and hate crimes are unfortunately not uncommon for many of these young adults today.
The good news is that more colleges are reaching out to their LGBT community, providing them with support and resources to succeed in their post-secondary academic career. We will discuss a few of the hurdles that face colleges that want to provide support to the LGBT students, as well as some community colleges that have overcome those hurdles to give all their student body an equal shot at success.
Some Facts about Sexual Minorities on Campus
Sexual minorities are not an easy segment of the population for community colleges to address for a number of reasons. The first obstacle is the lack of data on just how many LGBT students might be residing on college campuses today. This is due to outdated information and the tendency for many LGBT students to hide their sexual identity from their teachers and peers. Even those who want to study the LGBT population may be hesitant to express their desires, due to a mistaken perception that they might also be gay. That stigma has affected the careers of many teachers in the field of education today.
Unfortunately, hate crimes are a large concern for LGBT students on college campuses today. According to a report at ERIC Digest, anti-gay sentiment on college campuses is well-documented for four-year institutions. However, only one study thus far has examined this effect on community college campuses, leaving researchers unsure about the specific impact of have crimes on community college students.
LGBT students on college campuses have very specific needs in terms of making sense of their sexual identities and creating meaningful relationships with their peers. The good news is that many community colleges are beginning to recognize this portion of their population. For LGBT students, this means more resources and even financial aid than ever before.
Scholarships for LGBT Students
According to a report at Huffington Post, Lansing Community College is the first two-year college to offer a scholarship specifically for LGBT students. The scholarship has been named for Betsy Lou Robson and offered by her family. Currently, the scholarship should be available for the next three or four years. It has been applauded by local advocacy groups because it is leading the pack in reaching out to LGBT students at the community college level.
Pueblo Community College in Colorado also offers a scholarship for LGBT students through Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The scholarship provides up to $600 a semester to pay for books, fees, tuition and supplies. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must maintain a 2.5 GPA and write an essay to describe their experiences as a gay or lesbian person, according to the Pueblo Community College website.
At Mott Community College, LGBT students find support through the Gay Straight Alliance. According to the Motts website, this organization began in 2002 and offers education and support to LGBT students and those interested in learning more about this segment of the population. Through a combination of peer, professional and group meetings, this organization hopes to educate students of Motts and the surrounding community about issues facing the LGBT community and to ensure fair treatment of all LGBT students on the Motts campus. The GSA opens its doors to all Mott students and holds club activities, as well as weekly meetings.
At Auraria Campus in Denver, LGBT students also receive much needed assistance through the college's GLBT Student Services. This department provides a resource to students exploring issues of sexual orientation and identity, according to the college website. Education, advocacy and support are the core elements of this Auraria program. The mission of the department is to foster acceptance and understanding of the LGBT community and provide support and growth opportunities so LGBT students can reach their full potential while in college.
College has traditionally been a difficult adjustment for many LGBT students, but more and more schools are striving to meet the needs of this part of their student population. These students often come to college confused about their sexual orientation and identity and require support services to help them understand their sexuality in the context of a college environment. With more scholarships and support programs cropping up at community colleges across the country, sexual minority students may have the opportunity to reach their full potential in their post-secondary education.
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