LGBTQ+ college and university campus centres play an important role in the health, well-being, and academic achievement of students and deserve continued support from post-secondary institutions throughout the pandemic, argues a new commentary piece from Lehigh and Ohio State Universities.

The authors say LGBTQ+ campus resource centres are an essential service, and that’s especially true this year, where individuals may be studying remotely in an unwelcoming environment or feel removed from friends and their community.

The piece, titled “Why LGBTQ+ Campus Resource Centers are Essential“, has been published by Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity and is authored by Chelsea Gilbert, a Ph.D. student in Educational Studies at Ohio State University; Nicole L. Johnson, a faculty member in Counseling Psychology at Lehigh University; Claire Siepser, a Master of Education student in Counseling Psychology at Lehigh University; and Ann E. Fink, a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University.

“LGBTQ+ populations are particularly vulnerable to certain stressors and risks at play during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly if they also belong to other marginalized social groups,” Fink says in a statement

While the authors concede this is a “challenging” time for higher education and budgetary restraints may be required, the paper urges institutions to keep funding in place for LGBTQ+ student resources.

According to the study’s authors, there are more than 275 LGBTQ+ campus centres across the U.S., which work to counsel students, provide support and a sense of belonging, offer educational resources, and advocate for LGBTQ+ causes.

“It is my hope that the individuals who are in charge of making challenging decisions about what is considered essential during times of crisis will read this piece and see the true need for LGBTQ+ student services, especially in the midst of a pandemic,” Johnson says.



The need for on-campus support catered toward LGBTQ+ students can’t be understated. Even before the pandemic, gender minority post-secondary students were four times more likely to experience mental health issues when compared to the general student population, according to an August 2019 paper.

RELATED: Some LGBTQ+ individuals may be forced to isolate in unsupportive environments during the pandemic

A coalition of researchers from Boston University (BU), Harvard Medical School, and the University of Michigan School of Public Health examined the rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury, and suicidality among 1,200 gender minority students enrolled in 71 U.S.-based colleges and universities.

Of the students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, and genderqueer, 78 per cent met the criteria for one or more mental health issues.

Nearly 60 per cent of gender minority students involved in the study screened positive for clinically significant depression, compared with 28 per cent of cisgender students.

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