Survey focuses on LGBT issues

The University has created a task force to improve the atmosphere on campus for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students, but the group hopes to better the campus climate for straight students as well.

“Our charge as a task force is to identify the program and services of all students as they relate to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered issues,” Ellen Broido, assistant professor of higher education administration at the University, said.

The LGBT Issues task force was created last fall and contains approximately 15 members, including students from Resident Student Association, Undergraduate Student Government and faculty from several departments.

The group is currently asking students of all sexual preferences to fill out a survey to help with their research, but according to Dr. Camille Consolvo, the chair of the task force, the survey is not the only way the group is collecting information.

Other ways of collecting information included three open forums held earlier this semester, and conversations the task force have had with VISION, the LGBT group on campus. Also, the task force is working closely with a doctoral class that is conducting small group focus groups on issues concerning the climate for LGBT students.

After the research is collected the task force will make recommendations to the University on what they believe should be done on campus to improve the atmosphere, Consolvo said.

“The climate on campus for LGBT students is something we know has been an area we haven’t addressed in a structured way before,” Consolvo said. “Before we didn’t have the resources, and now we are ready to go ahead with it.”

Students benefit when services are inclusive and when homophobia is lessened, Broido said.

“A campus with less homophobia will be a more comfortable place for a straight woman who is an athlete, or a straight man who is a dancer, for example,” Broido said. “When all students feel safe to talk about their lives in class, all students will have a richer educational experience.”

Broido also said a better climate on campus will affect situations students encounter later in life.

“Future teachers will be better prepared if they’ve thought about the issues faced by their future students whose parents are a gay couple,” Broido said. “And business students will advance more quickly if they are comfortable being supervised by a lesbian.”

Consolvo said she hopes 2,000 students will answer the survey to have an adequate pool of research.

“Until we see the results from our research we will not be able to make recommendations,” Consolvo said. “This is for all the students, it helps straight students understand the issues so that everyone can work together and it helps LGBT students, in particular, by finding out what their needs are.”