LGBTQ+ students are more likely to move away from home to go to college, indicates a study conducted by The Williams Institute, a think tank based at UCLA’s School of Law. In fact, they are four times more likely to move out than their straight counterparts.
Relocating to attend a specific program is rather customary for new college students in the United States. But for LGBTQ+ students, deciding to move out is driven by wanting to leave an unwelcoming home environment and judgmental family members, according to the study.
“I wanted an experience where I had room to grow and be myself without having to worry about someone calling my parents,” Chris DeSett, 28, told Blavity about his experience moving to Washington D.C. from Kansas City, Missouri back in 2012.
Moving out allowed him to explore his identity with the support of his peers at American University.
“We’re all rushing down to this meeting area, and we’re talking and we’re playing ‘Never Have I Ever’ and stuff like that,” he remembers from his first night in the dorms. “It felt very welcoming and felt very affirming, and I kind of dipped my toe in the water and just said, ‘Oh, I think I might be bisexual.’ I didn’t feel that way, but I was just testing the waters for a reaction. And everyone’s like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s so great.’”
DeSett adds that “the reason why that’s so important to me was I wasn’t met with rejection. That affirming environment did give me the confidence to really explore my identity and then land on the conclusion that, ‘No, I am a gay man, and I’m confident that I know that for a fact. I know that I’ll be loved for who I am.’”
Having safe spaces and adequate resources for LGBTQ+ students is essential, as the study also found that students part of this group are more likely than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts to experience poor mental health, bullying and harassment.
Last March, Florida passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which not only prohibits teachers to discuss LGBTQ+ topics in schools but also allows them to out children to their parents.
If you are seeking LGBTQ+-focused resources and counseling, GLAAD has compiled a list of resources here.
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