Does lesbian identity development affect college women's experience of OSU's campus environment? Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/js956j178

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  • This study explored lesbian identity development and the relationship between Oregon State University campus climate as reported by 35 lesbian students. Identity development was measured by using Cass's (1984b) Stage Allocation Measure (SAM) which is a self-select tool for determining stage of lesbian identity development. The SAM was then used to create a three stage identity development model. Herek's (1986) Sexual Orientation Survey (SOS) was used to examine the campus climate as experienced by lesbian students. Findings showed that 63% of the participants felt it was important to disclose their sexual orientation to members of OSU's campus. Yet, 69% of the respondents did not feel comfortable doing so. Also, 51% of the respondents reported fearing for their safety, and because of this, 47% of all respondents modified their behavior. The results of this study indicate there are additional factors that contribute to these findings. For example, 89% of the participants reported hearing disparaging remarks; 94% felt the possibility of harassment, violence or physical attacks was likely; and 91% believed discrimination and unequal treatment towards lesbian, gay or bisexual persons at OSU was very likely. These findings were reported by equal numbers of individuals in each stage of their identity development. The results of this study indicate that lesbian students at OSU suffer from similar negative experiences as students who attended Emory University (1987), Pennsylvania State University (1987), Rutgers University (1987) and Yale University (1986) where the SOS was also used to measure campus climate. Recommendations for changes at Oregon State were creation of a "safe zone" and programs for retention of lesbian students, increasing visibility of the President's Commission on Hate Related Activities, and making the OSU community a safe place for women administrators and faculty role models to come out. Additional research was also recommended to examine the OSU campus climate as experienced by gay male students and lesbian and gay faculty members.
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