Misguided Tokenism: Issues of LGBTQ+ Inclusion at University
One in five LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus) people experienced a hate crime as a direct result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the UK (Bachmann & Gooch, 2017). This has been explained in research to be more likely to happen in a society that is structured favourably for certain identities or characteristics over others (for example, white, male, heterosexual). LGBTQ+ people are often subjected to harassment and discrimination as a result of beliefs and traditions held by wider society (Kelleher, 2009; Subhrajit, 2014). LGBTQ+ youth, in particular are at greater risk of numerous health and wellbeing issues, including harassment and discrimination and face various barriers in education such as lack of staff LGBTQ+ knowledge and lack of social support (Munoz-Plaza, et al., 2002; Toomey, et al., 2013). The majority of research into LGBTQ+ student experiences has been conducted in the US and that there is little research into the topic for UK students. The current study asked 59 students from four university campuses in the UK to reflect on their perceptions of inclusion of LGBTQ+ students at their campus. Data revealed the strengths and weaknesses that universities exhibit in the inclusion and treatment of these students including a need for staff training into LGBTQ+ issues, better gender-neutral facilities, and more effective recognition of LGBTQ+ events. Recommendations for improvements are made and future research is also discussed.