In addition to balancing coursework and navigating new social situations just like their straight counterparts, LGBTQ+ students may encounter additional challenges in college.
According to this report [pdf] from the National LGBT Health Education Center, members of LGBTQ+ communities are more likely than their straight counterparts to experience health disparities that include:
- Higher rates of substance abuse and tobacco use
- Higher rates of depression and anxiety
- Lower rates of Pap test screening
- Lower rates of having health insurance
At some schools, LGBTQ+ students may find their student health center to be an inclusive space. Some institutions may provide inclusive services in their student health insurance plan, like hormones or gender-affirming surgeries. In addition, schools may have provided staff with training to be more inclusive of all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. You have a right to be treated with respect as a patient in a health center. If you feel you are not treated with respect, you can speak to the health center staff as well as staff and administrators of your institution.
In this document [pdf], the Tyler Clementi Center shows that LGBTQ+ students have GPAs that are equal to or higher than their straight peers but are more likely to report that they considered dropping out of college. There could be several reasons for this [pdf]. LGBTQ+ students are more likely to feel isolated from campus. LGBTQ+ students are more likely to report that health issues, such as anxiety and depression, impact their academics.
The National LGBTQ Task Force found that one in five college students fear for their physical safety due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. The good news is that there is a large campus presence actively fighting to end discrimination and create a spirit of acceptance and respect among all students, faculty, and staff members. Many schools have student or faculty-led groups that champion and empower the LGBTQ+ community and align them with straight allies. Over 200 schools have an office or resources center dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ students. If your school has a center or office for LGBTQ+ students, get involved! There may be support meetings, brave spaces, or other resources.