TORONTO, November 10, 2015 – While most students in Ontario who identify as LGBTQ+ feel comfortable and included on campus, many still may experience service gaps in health care, struggle to find like-minded peers, and feel overlooked in their classrooms, according to a report published by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
Over 300 undergraduate respondents from campuses around the province completed the survey last fall, the most ever for a survey specifically highlighting the university experience of Ontario LGBTQ+ students. The survey sought to better understand the satisfaction, safety, and inclusion of these students on campus.
Spencer Nestico-Semianiw, the President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, says that the survey demonstrates how much campus culture and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues has progressed in the last decade. However, survey responses demonstrated arenas of campus life that need improvement.
“It’s encouraging and gratifying to see that most queer-identified students feel like they are included and welcome on campus. But there are still several key areas- for example, health care and teaching practices- where some students feel the effects of discrimination or ignorance,” says Nestico-Semianiw.
One in five respondents reported that on-campus health care providers were not respectful or professional and that they lacked the knowledge necessary to provide good care. This was particularly noted among students who identified as Trans; several respondents detailed scenarios in which doctors lacked information or seemed visibly uncomfortable during appointments.
- A large majority of respondents agreed that they would like more student areas permanently designated as LGBTQ+ safe spaces.
- Most respondents (38%) reported that they were “sometimes” made uncomfortable in class regarding their orientation or gender by their professors’ comments or assumptions, while 25% indicated often or always (30% indicated never or rarely)
- Overall, students who identified as Trans, genderqueer/fluid, agender, or non-binary were less likely to feel comfortable and included on campus than their cisgender peers.
“In our new LGBTQ+ Students Policy Paper, OUSA outlines three key areas where universities can make valuable improvements: resource allocation, policy making, and education,” said Nestico-Semianiw. “LGBTQ+ students are the experts on their own experience, and we are happy to be able to use these survey results to inform our continued advocacy.”
Read the report here
Read the LGBTQ+ Students Policy Paper here
About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
OUSA represents the interests of almost 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at seven member associations across Ontario.