The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - 87

Supporting LGBQ+ Students with Disabilities

staff are prepared to foster more positive environments for LGBQ+ students with disabilities.
Evans and Broido (2002) named four roles that
RAs should play including supporting LGBQ+
students, increasing awareness among heterosexual students, creating inclusive communities, and confronting homophobic comments.
In training related to fulfilling these roles, we
urge practitioners to not think of LGBQ+ students as monoliths and seek ways to affirm the
diverse identities of LGBQ+ students.
Several institutions have established
LGBTQ/Pride living-learning communities
(e.g., Spectrum at Indiana University [2019]
and Stonewall Suites Living-Learning Community at the University of South Florida [2019]),
which are meant to create intentional spaces
for LGBQ+ students (Dunn & Dean, 2013;
Pasque & Murphy, 2005). Having communities dedicated to celebrating LGBQ+ identities
can help affirm these identities, which influences students' overall identity development.
Creating these spaces might also decrease the
amount of discrimination related to sexuality in a similar manner to how Black students
use peer support networks for success (Tatum,
1997). It would additionally be important that
such communities ensure that students with
multiple marginalized identities are fully
supported beyond the LGBQ+ aspect of their
identities such as making sure residence life
practitioners and students in the community
are aware of the needs of their peers with disabilities. Although establishing visible identitybased communities may increase the ability of
others to target discrimination or harassment
(Strayhorn & Mullins, 2012), institutions must
proactively work to protect these communities.
Simply having these communities, however,

may provide the space and access to support
systems that would decrease the impact of
negative experiences. Further, these affirming environments may positively influence the
mental health of LGBQ+ students. Our findings show a significant proportion of LGBQ+
students reported mental health issues as their
disabilities, thus residence life practitioners
may consider how to implement mental health
support and resources for this community.
We support applying concepts of Universal
Design to create supportive environments for
LGBQ+ students with disabilities (Couillard
& Higbee, 2018). Universal Design has a long
history of use to increase accessibility, but at its
core, Universal Design is about making environments more accessible and inclusive to all.
Couillard and Higbee (2018) suggested using
interactions with students as opportunities to
affirm and learn more about their identities.
Residence life practitioners often have formal
and informal one-on-one interactions with
students (e.g., advising, conduct, supervision).
Practitioners should be prepared to use those
interactions as developmental learning opportunities for students but also for input and
feedback on achieving the goals and meeting
the principles of Universal Design.

CONCLUSION
The higher education experiences of LGBQ+
students with disabilities are not well understood. In this study, we find that in many
ways LGBQ+ students with disabilities living
on campus have more negative experiences
at their institutions than their peers. With
respect to their sexual orientation, they feel
less physically safe on campus, less comfortable being themselves, less valued, and less
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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
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