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Joe Rogan: COVID-19 misinfo, right-wing myths, & anti-trans rhetoric

“Called out for peddling dangerous rhetoric, he shields himself claiming he should not be considered a ‘respected source of information”

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Joe Rogan 'Wrapped on Spotify' graphic vis Media Matters for America

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – Throughout his first full year streaming exclusively on Spotify, host Joe Rogan has repeatedly used his podcast to broadcast conspiracy theories, COVID-19 misinformation, and anti-trans rhetoric to millions of listeners across the globe. One year into his contract, it’s clear that Spotify’s $100 million paycheck to Rogan is funding increasingly dangerous and bigoted content.

Media Matters monitored over 350 hours of The Joe Rogan Experience over the past year and found that the show is grounded in misinformation and bigotry. To coincide with Spotify’s 2021 Wrapped — an annual summary of the trends on the streaming platform — we compiled some of the worst examples of Rogan’s sexist, racist, and harmful commentary over the past year — all paid for by Spotify.

Rogan is a veritable megaphone of right-wing lies, and when he is called out for peddling dangerous rhetoric, he shields himself from any accountability by claiming he should not be considered a “respected source of information.” He has also repeatedly praised Spotify for being a safe space for him as the platform has refused to do anything to quell the misinformation and hate on his show; Rogan once told a guest that anti-trans attacks are acceptable on his show, saying, “You can say whatever you want. We’re on Spotify.”

The Joe Rogan Experience is broadcast exclusively on Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021 and 2020. As The Washington Post noted in May, “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, Rogan reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.” 

COVID-19 misinformation

  • On April 23, Rogan encouraged “healthy” young people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go no.” According to The Verge, Spotify reviewed these comments but did not find them in violation of any policies, thus leaving the episode live. Public health experts and White House officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci condemned Rogan’s comments.
  • On April 28, Rogan falsely claimed that any lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 “makes things worse,” saying, “It’s worse. It makes things worse, you know why — because people go inside. They are trapped inside and that’s where it spreads.”
  • On May 14, he falsely claimed that far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was “right” about “actual microchips being injected into your arm to see if you have COVID-19.” 
  • On June 22, Rogan dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to promoting ivermectin as a prophylactic and therapeutic for COVID-19, even though it’s an unproven and potentially dangerous treatment for the disease. During the podcast, guest Bret Weinstein claimed that a study showed “ivermectin alone, if properly utilized, is capable of driving this pathogen to extinction,” and Rogan made unsubstantiated claims about its use for prevention of COVID-19, saying, “All it means is to take the drug to anticipate that you may get it, so if you’re in a high-risk area you take it and it’ll protect you from infection.”
  • On July 20, Rogan promoted the right-wing lie that the government was planning to monitor private citizens’ text messages for anti-vaccine misinformation, saying, “Have you seen the new thing about SMS text messages to stop COVID vaccine misinformation? … Saagar [Enjeti] from Breaking Points sent me this. We were talking about this recently. They are monitoring SMS texts for dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines.”
  • On August 6, Rogan fearmongered that vaccine passports would move the U.S. “one step closer to dictatorship” and lied that getting the coronavirus vaccine is not effective in preventing the disease, saying, “All you hear is take this vaccine that doesn’t even prevent you from getting the disease, or you can’t go to the sauna or wherever the fuck you want to go. … If it was a vaccine — it’s more of a treatment than it is a vaccine, really, if you look at it.”
  • On August 12, Rogan promoted the baseless right-wing narrative fearmongering that immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were causing a surge in COVID-19 cases, saying, “They are letting in — so Greg Abbott, the governor, the great governor of the state of Texas, was correct — they are letting in thousands and thousands of people who are positive with COVID.”
  • On August 20, he falsely asserted that mRNA coronavirus vaccines are “really gene therapy” and lied that it is “not logical, it’s not rational, and it’s not supported by science” to advise people with natural immunity to get a coronavirus vaccine. Notably, Rogan has made the same false claim that mRNA vaccines are a form of “gene therapy” on August 18September 21November 8, and November 10.
  • On September 23, Rogan fearmongered that vaccine passports will lead to a “social credit system similar to what they have in China.”
  • On September 30, Rogan baselessly suggested that President Joe Biden did not actually receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, falsely claiming that it would be unsafe and potentially deadly to do so on live TV. 
  • On November 10, he repeatedly spread the baseless claim that the Biden administration is trying to stop people from receiving monoclonal antibodies, a COVID-19 treatment, “because it discourages people from getting vaccinated.” Rogan repeated this claim on the November 26 edition of his show, asserting that the treatment is being withheld because “they don’t want there to be a very clear path where you don’t have to be vaccinated but if you get sick you’re going to be fine.” 
  • On November 22, Rogan falsely asserted that children do not need to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “They’re trying to say that children need it when they don’t. They don’t need it.” 
  • Later in that episode, Rogan baselessly claimed that use of ivermectin “essentially cured COVID” in Uttar Pradesh, India. 

Anti-trans rhetoric

  • On June 25, Rogan lied that “there’s not a lot of overwhelming, overt discrimination against people who are trans, like, publicly other than the sports thing” and prisons.
  • On July 3, Rogan mocked and misgendered a young person who came out as trans to his friends. He also said that “it’s fashionable” to be nonbinary, later claiming, “It’s going to get worse.” He also asserted, “I think people are going to be transracial. I think in the next few years transracialism is going to be, like, fully embraced. And then we’re going to have Black folks on our side, because they’re going to go hey, … this is crazy. All this stuff about trans women competing in the Olympics, that wasn’t as bothersome.”
  • On August 12, Rogan agreed with his guest Andrew Schulz’s comments when Schulz used an anti-trans slur and compared trans people to QAnon conspiracy theorists, asserting, “QAnon is just like conservative t—–s. That’s really all they are.” Rogan also claimed that being nonbinary is “very, very self-indulgent,” and said that trans people are “not experiencing real adversity or, you know, real discrimination, so you create discrimination against yourself.”
  • On August 20, Rogan asserted that “men transitioning to women use male tactics and male behavior as they invade feminist spaces,” “tend to be more assertive,” and “dominate whenever possible if left unchecked.” He also said that trans women “use male tactics and male behavior as they invade feminist spaces” and “dominate them like men do.” 
  • Later in that episode, Rogan derided an unnamed trans woman, saying she had a “terrorist beard” and that “there’s no way you’re a woman.” Rogan continued, “There are definitely people with legitimate gender dysphoria that want to be a woman, and they’re biologically male. And then there’s grifters. There’s crazy people. There’s people who have locked on to this movement.”
  • On November 3, Rogan used an anti-trans slur, lamenting, “You can’t say t—-y,” before his guest repeatedly used the slur. He also mocked the idea of a comedian using they/them pronouns, saying, “Imagine if there is a comic who gave into that.”

Right-wing misinformation and bigotry

  • On January 30, Rogan commented on actor Angelina Jolie’s genitals, saying, “Crazy pussy is the best pussy. … She’s clearly crazy.” He also demeaned Jolie for developing Bell’s palsy, saying, “That’s the problem with crazy is crazy comes with all sorts of neurotic shit.”
  • On May 13, Rogan lamented the so-called effects of “woke culture,” saying, “It keeps going further and further down the line and if you get to the point where you capitulate, where you agree to all these demands, it’ll eventually get to straight white men are not allowed to talk, because it’s your privilege to express yourself when other people of color have been silenced throughout history.” 
  • On July 3, Rogan imitated people who speak Mandarin and questioned, “Is that racist to do that, to imitate a sound?” He also imitated an Asian accent on the November 3 edition of his show.
  • On July 29, Rogan claimed that journalist Lauren Sanchez is an “alpha predator female” and agreed with his guest’s claim that her “puss puss is probably incredible because girls like that, you got to respect they know that that’s their job.”
  • On August 8, Rogan used an anti-Chinese slur, complaining, “You can’t say Chinaman.”
  • On October 6, Rogan called people who had criticized his guest on TikTok “retarded.” After his guest replied “you can’t say that,” Rogan said, “But I’m on Spotify. You can get away with it.” He also said the word on November 26 edition of his show and claimed that the word means “you’ve been held back in learning because you’ve applied the wrong kind of thinking to things. It does not mean someone with Down syndrome, and this idea that those two are … the same thing and it’s a slur or it’s a terrible thing to say, that’s not true. It’s not right.”
  • On November 3, Rogan pushed the right-wing lie that Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institute of Health funded “experiments on these beagle puppies and they put their heads in cages and filled the cages with sand flies where the sand flies were literally eating the beagles alive.”
  • On November 26, Rogan claimed that the Democratic establishment will “kill people on purpose that are causing problems” and said, “You have this organization that’s based on this sort of cronyism and [House Majority Leader] Nancy Pelosi is the head witch.”
  • In that same episode, Rogan spread the right-wing lie that Biden called Kyle Rittenhouse — the teenager who killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year and was later aquitted — a “white supremacist.”

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Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

********************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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News Analysis

Fears vindicated as “Don’t Say Gay” legislation harms Florida students

The law’s vague and ambiguous language is erasing LGBTQ students, families, & history from kindergarten through 12th grade, without limits

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Blade file screenshot/photo)

TALLAHASSEE — As the school year ends, students across Florida are experiencing the inevitable censorship of Florida’s anti-LGBTQ Don’t Say Gay law recently signed by Governor DeSantis.

The law’s harmful impacts are not limited to LGBTQ students. Yearbooks, graduation ceremonies, school newspapers, and school libraries for all students are being held hostage under the law’s new lawsuit provision, signaling what to expect more of in the future.  

In Sarasota County, Zander Moricz, a Harvard-bound senior and the school’s first openly LGBTQ class president, has earned the right to give a commencement speech at his graduation but is being actively censored by his high school.

The school principal dictated Moricz may not reference his activism opposing the Don’t Say Gay. If Moricz does so, the school will immediately cut off his microphone on stage, end his speech, and halt the ceremony for all students, parents, and grandparents in attendance. 

“This blatant censorship is unacceptable and entirely foreseeable,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida Public Policy Director. “It epitomizes how the law’s vague and ambiguous language is erasing LGBTQ students, families, and history from kindergarten through 12th grade, without limits.  The law is driving division when we should have a state where all students are protected and all families are respected.”

At Lyman High School in Seminole County, school administrators proposed to censor students’ school yearbook spread covering the Don’t Say Gay walkout at the school, attempting to black out photos of students proudly holding pride flags. School leadership told student yearbook editors that the spread violated school policies, against “defamatory, libelous, obscene, or harmful to juveniles; speech that is reasonably likely to cause substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities.”

In another attempt to erase LGBTQ students and history, Lyman High School leadership has banned a student newspaper editor from publishing her article on the Don’t Say Gay law. 

At the Seminole County School Board meeting last night, numerous community members and students provided powerful student testimony in support of the students at Lyman High School.  The School Board has opted to place a sticker noting that the Don’t Say Gay Walkout was not a school sponsored event instead of blacking out the entire spread. The School Board Vice Chair called the original decision a “mistake.”

“Stifling students from thinking critically and expressing themselves is the exact opposite of our goals as high school public educators,” said Dr. Robert John Hovel Jr., AP Psychology Educator at Lyman High School. “We are always encouraging our students to engage and stay informed on current issues. These students educated themselves about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and came together by the thousands to demand a stop to it, with these protests happening not just at Lyman, but across many Seminole County Public Schools. The courage and resilience demonstrated by our students demands applause, not discouragement. Being a visible, open, and out educator for my students is of the utmost importance for reasons such as this, to provide them support and encouragement to stand for what is right. These students did just that on the night of May 10, 2022 at the Seminole County School Board meeting and I could not be more proud of every single one of them.”

These censorship attempts compound the effects of multiple school districts banning books that include same-sex couples or LGBTQ characters.  Don’t Say Gay bill proponents have labeled a popular baby book as “pornography” because it includes an illustration of two dads walking together and sought to ban it, along with a cartoon kids book about two male penguins raising a chick together, based on a true story.  The message is clear: LGBTQ kids and kids with same-sex parents are not welcome in Florida schools or our state. 

The Don’t Say Gay law officially goes into effect on July 1, 2022.

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News Analysis

Abortion is an LGBTQ+ rights issue, here’s why

“Assumptions LGBTQ people wouldn’t need access to abortion “currently excludes many transgender and gender-expansive people with uteruses”

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Protests at U.S. Supreme Court over leaked abortion ruling draft (Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – As pro-choice advocates brace for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, many LGBTQ people are joining them not just as supporters concerned that a decision overturning marriage equality could be next — but also over fears their own access to abortion could be stripped away.

Those fears peaked after the leak of a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito reversing a 50-year precedent that found a constitutional right to abortion. But some observers may wonder why LGBTQ Americans would be worried about abortion access. After all, the risk of unwanted pregnancy is largely non-existent among gay and lesbian couples, right?

Wrong. Studies have found that isn’t the case, not just because bisexual people often do have intercourse with a different-sex partner, but also because pregnancies result from sexual violence and efforts to suppress sexual orientation during the coming out process. According to a 2000 study, more than 80 percent of bisexual women have experienced at least one pregnancy, and more than a third of lesbians have done so.

Julie Gonen, federal policy director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Blade among the many reasons why LGBTQ people care about abortion rights is “a lot of queer folks can and do become pregnant and some will need abortion care if they face an unwanted pregnancy.”

“We know from studies that lesbian, bisexual and other non-heterosexual women are at least as likely as other women to experience unintended pregnancy and therefore might require abortion care,” Gonen said. “Some of those studies also show that sexual minority women are more likely to have unintended pregnancies that result from sexual violence. For younger people, there are studies that suggest that some of them actually engage in heterosexual sex to prove they’re not gay, and so they put themselves at greater risk of unintended pregnancy.”

Indeed, the legal brief filed jointly by LGBTQ groups before the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will determine the constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, makes the case for preserving Roe on the basis of the need for LGBTQ people to have access to abortion.

Chief among the arguments in the legal brief: Overturning Roe would “have a deeply disruptive effect” on the lives and expectations of millions of women, including members of the LGBTQ community.

“Sexual minority women have the same interest as other women in reproductive autonomy,” the brief says. “They are at least as likely to experience unintended pregnancies, in part due to sexual violence and to economic and other barriers to reproductive care. Sexual minority women often face both sexism and homophobia, and many confront racism and poverty as well, which makes their quest for equal citizenship an uphill battle.”

Studies cited in the brief, including research finding pregnancy is not uncommon among lesbians and bisexual women, find sexual minority women are more likely than other women to have experienced unwanted pregnancy through sexual violence. One study found sexual minority women are more likely to experience violence and sometimes by a factor of 15 or more. Another study found lesbians were nine times more likely than those identifying as straight to report having been subjected to violence by the man involved in the pregnancy, and bisexual women were more than twice as likely to do so.

Also pointed out in the legal brief is lesbian and bisexual women “are at an especially high risk for pregnancy due to social pressures to hide their sexual orientation and convince others they are heterosexual.” One 2017 study found bisexual women were significantly more likely to have been pregnant in the past 12 months than their peers who were women who have sex with men only and the trend often continues for these women until adulthood.

The Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles published a study in 2020 finding bisexual women and girls are more sexually active than their straight peers and face odds of an unwanted pregnancy at a rate that is 1.75 times greater. The prevalence of poverty among bisexual women, transgender people, and LGBTQ people of color makes access to contraception more difficult, the study finds. They also have less ability to cross state lines to access abortion.

Transgender men and non-binary people are also counted as among the members of the LGBTQ community who could experience unwanted pregnancies and could require access to abortion.

Megan Caine, family nurse practitioner at the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, told the Blade assumptions LGBTQ people wouldn’t need access to abortion “currently excludes many transgender and gender-expansive people with uteruses from accessing the services they need.”

“The prohibition of safe and accessible abortion will only add to this health disparity,” Caine said. “Transgender and gender-expansive people as a population have an alarmingly high rate of suicide. Coupled with significant barriers to accessing birth control, eliminating the option to safely terminate a pregnancy could absolutely put a pregnant person’s life at risk.”

Compounding concerns among LGBTQ Americans about access to abortion is the fear that the legal reasoning behind a decision overturning Roe would undermine legal precedent in favor of LGBTQ rights, including the 2015 decision in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, as well as general access to medical care for LGBTQ people.

Kellan Baker, executive director and chief learning officer at the Whitman-Walker Institute, said his organization is “already hearing questions from clients who are concerned about what steps they need to take to protect their future options to have an abortion if needed, as well as to protect their families and relationships.”

As pro-choice advocates brace for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, many LGBTQ people are joining them not just as supporters concerned that a decision overturning marriage equality could be next — but also over fears their own access to abortion could be stripped away.

Those fears peaked after the leak of a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito reversing a 50-year precedent that found a constitutional right to abortion. But some observers may wonder why LGBTQ Americans would be worried about abortion access. After all, the risk of unwanted pregnancy is largely non-existent among gay and lesbian couples, right?

Wrong. Studies have found that isn’t the case, not just because bisexual people often do have intercourse with a different-sex partner, but also because pregnancies result from sexual violence and efforts to suppress sexual orientation during the coming out process. According to a 2000 study, more than 80 percent of bisexual women have experienced at least one pregnancy, and more than a third of lesbians have done so.

Julie Gonen, federal policy director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Blade among the many reasons why LGBTQ people care about abortion rights is “a lot of queer folks can and do become pregnant and some will need abortion care if they face an unwanted pregnancy.”

“We know from studies that lesbian, bisexual and other non-heterosexual women are at least as likely as other women to experience unintended pregnancy and therefore might require abortion care,” Gonen said. “Some of those studies also show that sexual minority women are more likely to have unintended pregnancies that result from sexual violence. For younger people, there are studies that suggest that some of them actually engage in heterosexual sex to prove they’re not gay, and so they put themselves at greater risk of unintended pregnancy.”

Indeed, the legal brief filed jointly by LGBTQ groups before the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will determine the constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, makes the case for preserving Roe on the basis of the need for LGBTQ people to have access to abortion.

Chief among the arguments in the legal brief: Overturning Roe would “have a deeply disruptive effect” on the lives and expectations of millions of women, including members of the LGBTQ community.

“Sexual minority women have the same interest as other women in reproductive autonomy,” the brief says. “They are at least as likely to experience unintended pregnancies, in part due to sexual violence and to economic and other barriers to reproductive care. Sexual minority women often face both sexism and homophobia, and many confront racism and poverty as well, which makes their quest for equal citizenship an uphill battle.”

Studies cited in the brief, including research finding pregnancy is not uncommon among lesbians and bisexual women, find sexual minority women are more likely than other women to have experienced unwanted pregnancy through sexual violence. One study found sexual minority women are more likely to experience violence and sometimes by a factor of 15 or more. Another study found lesbians were nine times more likely than those identifying as straight to report having been subjected to violence by the man involved in the pregnancy, and bisexual women were more than twice as likely to do so.

Also pointed out in the legal brief is lesbian and bisexual women “are at an especially high risk for pregnancy due to social pressures to hide their sexual orientation and convince others they are heterosexual.” One 2017 study found bisexual women were significantly more likely to have been pregnant in the past 12 months than their peers who were women who have sex with men only and the trend often continues for these women until adulthood.

The Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles published a study in 2020 finding bisexual women and girls are more sexually active than their straight peers and face odds of an unwanted pregnancy at a rate that is 1.75 times greater. The prevalence of poverty among bisexual women, transgender people, and LGBTQ people of color makes access to contraception more difficult, the study finds. They also have less ability to cross state lines to access abortion.

Transgender men and non-binary people are also counted as among the members of the LGBTQ community who could experience unwanted pregnancies and could require access to abortion.

Megan Caine, family nurse practitioner at the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, told the Blade assumptions LGBTQ people wouldn’t need access to abortion “currently excludes many transgender and gender-expansive people with uteruses from accessing the services they need.”

“The prohibition of safe and accessible abortion will only add to this health disparity,” Caine said. “Transgender and gender-expansive people as a population have an alarmingly high rate of suicide. Coupled with significant barriers to accessing birth control, eliminating the option to safely terminate a pregnancy could absolutely put a pregnant person’s life at risk.”

Compounding concerns among LGBTQ Americans about access to abortion is the fear that the legal reasoning behind a decision overturning Roe would undermine legal precedent in favor of LGBTQ rights, including the 2015 decision in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, as well as general access to medical care for LGBTQ people.

Kellan Baker, executive director and chief learning officer at the Whitman-Walker Institute, said his organization is “already hearing questions from clients who are concerned about what steps they need to take to protect their future options to have an abortion if needed, as well as to protect their families and relationships.”

“Just as we fought to get the government out of our bedrooms, we need to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that would insert itself in private medical decisions that should be made between patients and their providers,” Baker concluded.

Among concerns about a Supreme Court decision jeopardizing health outcomes for LGBTQ people, including access to abortion, many LGBTQ groups are making the fight over abortion a top priority following the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe. The congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, for example, issued a statement this week calling for the expansion of the court in an effort to dilute the conservative majority that would overturn Roe. The Human Rights Campaign, on the other hand, issued a statement endorsing the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is Democrats’ legislative attempt to codify Roe in law in anticipation the constitutional right will no longer exist.

Gonen said groups representing LGBTQ people “are going to continue to fight for abortion rights right alongside our allies in the reproductive health rights and justice movements.”

“I mean, if this happens, and it looks like it’s going to, this is a truly alarming moment for anyone who cares about human rights, gender equality, and justice,” Gonen said. “Because abortion bans force people to be pregnant against their will, and while not all people who experience pregnancy are women, the vast majority are, which makes abortion bans a particularly invidious form of sex discrimination. And LGBTQ people know what it’s like to experience sex discrimination and to have others trying to force us into gender norms that we don’t fit.”

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Research/Study

LGBTQ+ college students more likely to pick school away from home

Experiences among LGBTQ students in graduate schools and community colleges followed a similar pattern to four-year colleges and universities

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Royce Hall UCLA/UCLA Media

LOS ANGELES – A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation’s largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds LGBTQ people were four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people to report having picked a college in a different city or state in search of a more welcoming climate (22% vs. 5%, respectively).

Twice as many LGBTQ people (33%) as non-LGBTQ people (14%) chose to attend a college elsewhere to get away from their families. While in school, LGBTQ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience poor mental health, bullying, and harassment.

Using data from the Access to Higher Education Survey, a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 to 40, researchers examined the experiences of LGBTQ people who have attended a four-year college or graduate school. A companion study looked at the experiences of LGBTQ people in community college.

In four-year institutions, graduate school, and community college, LGBTQ students were more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience discrimination and violence. One-third (33%) of LGBTQ people at four-year colleges were bullied, harassed, or assaulted, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ people.

“Despite efforts to find more welcoming environments, many LGBTQ people in higher education face significant negative experiences, which can impact their ability to learn and succeed,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges and universities concerned about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion must focus on improving conditions for LGBTQ students.”

“In this current climate, it’s sadly not a surprise to us that institutions of higher learning have a lot more work to do when it comes to making LGBTQ students feel safe, heard, and equally served by their schools,” said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and CEO at Point Foundation. “Colleges need to make an institutional commitment that clearly communicates support for LGBTQ students. And LGBTQ students themselves must be involved in the process to ensure that policies, services, and infrastructural components are truly effective.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS – FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES

Bullying, Harassment, and Assault

  • Nearly one in five (19%) LGBTQ people experienced in-person bullying or harassment at a four-year college, compared to 5% of non-LGBTQ people.
  • 18% of LGBTQ people experienced sexual harassment, compared to 6% of non-LGBTQ people.
  • Among the LGBTQ people who were victimized, only one-fifth (20%) said that their college had an easily accessible, visible, and known procedure for reporting LGBTQ-related bias incidents and hate crimes distinct from generic reporting procedures.

Belonging and Outness

  • Fewer LGBTQ people experienced a sense of belonging at college (72%), compared to non-LGBTQ people (84%).
  • More than half (60%) of LGBTQ people were not “out” as LGBTQ to any of the faculty or school staff at their college and 37% were not “out” to any other students.
  • LGBTQ people were more than twice as likely to have changed their dress, appearance, or mannerisms to avoid discrimination at college compared to non-LGBTQ peers (16% and 7%, respectively).

Mental Health

  • LGBTQ people (35%) were about three times more likely than non-LGBTQ people (11%) to say that their mental health was not good all or most of the time they were in college.
  • LGBTQ people were at least twice as likely as non-LGBTQ people to report that a professional told them that they had a specific mental health problem while in college, including depression (32% vs. 16%), anxiety (33% vs. 15%), and suicidal thoughts (19% vs. 6%).
  • A minority of LGBTQ people reported that their colleges had LGBTQ-supportive counseling services (39%) or LGBTQ-informed health services (30%).

Experiences among LGBTQ students in graduate schools and community colleges followed a similar pattern to four-year colleges and universities.

This study is part of a series of reports that analyze data from the Access to Higher Education Survey:
COVID-19 and Students in Higher Education
Federal Student Loan Debt Among LGBTQ People
Educational Experiences of Transgender People
Community College and the Experiences of LGBTQ People

Read the report

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