The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - 55

Microaggressions, Sense of Belonging, and Sexual Identity in the Residential Environment

This study demonstrates the need
to reframe education to include the
connection to sense of belonging
and its implications for retention
and persistence.

One way to achieve these goals while addressing some of the challenges would be for researchers to use queer theory in developing studies.
Renn (2010) has long called for the use of queer
theory in higher education and argued that it can
be "key to opening doors to theoretical advances
across higher education research" and "casts new
light on existing questions and problems, and
indeed makes scholars question what is or might
be a question to investigate" (p. 137).

Practice
Housing and residence life professionals and
departments can serve as conduits for changing
campus climate. Residential environments have
a sense of belonging at their core, underscoring
the importance of the results from this study.
The results of this study show that microaggressions can have a significant negative impact on
students' sense of belonging. A challenge in
addressing microaggressions is a lack of understanding. Staff at all levels within housing and
residence life need specific training on how to
recognize, address, and understand the negative
implications associated with microaggressions.
Additionally, institutions should consider
how to shift the social norms around microaggressions to align with more direct forms of violence. Similar campaigns have been used with
education and training around alcohol, drugs,

and sexual violence. This study demonstrates
the need to reframe education to include the
connection to sense of belonging and its implications for retention and persistence.
This study also challenges departments
to examine the ways they may be furthering
microaggressions. For example, pricing structures and housing assignment processes could
impose undue environmental microaggressions
on LGBQ students by creating homogenous
communities. Additionally, protocols for victim
follow-up should be mindful to aid students in
their identity development while also empowering them to aid in guiding response. When
considering social identities, housing and residence life professionals must consider the role
of intersectionality. Evans, Guido, Patton, and
Renn (2010) stated that students are not simply
a conglomeration of identities but that identities
come together to make students unique. Abes,
Jones, and McEwen (2007) explained that in addition to looking at intersecting identities as a
whole, the use of individual meaning-making
would "more thoroughly depict the relationship
between context and salience (and self-perceptions) of identity dimensions, as well as the relationship between social identities and the core
of identity" (p. 6). Where students are on their
developmental journey and how their intersecting identities inform their meaning making are
crucial variables in their ability to establish a
sense of belonging.

CONCLUSION
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) students face many difficulties on college campuses (Nadal, 2013; Platt & Lenzen, 2013; Rankin
et al., 2010; Wright & Wegner, 2012); however
to thrive, students need to feel safe, physically
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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - Cover1
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