The survey phase of Thriving on Campus will be open until the end of April. Photo: Thriving on Campus.
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Students of marginalized gender and sexual identities asked to fill out online survey

A team of researchers from Wilfred Laurier University are conducting a study on the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in Ontario — and they’re asking students at the University of Ottawa to contribute.

The study, entitled Thriving on Campus, hopes to capture the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in regards to the special challenges and discriminations they face in the campus environment, as well as “factors that promote resiliency.”

Simon Coulombe, an assistant professor at Laurier and a co-investigator in the study, says that this study aims to fill a lack of research done in this area.

“We know from studies in the U.S. that LGBTQ+ people on campus … they report relatively high and concerning levels of discrimination on campus, and also more subtle forms of discrimination,” he said.

Ultimately, Coulombe says he and his team hope the study can go on to improve policies and programming in academic institutions across the province.

The study is currently in the first of four phases, and the research team is asking students to fill out an online survey. The later phases will see the researchers analyze the data they find, and contact survey respondents for follow-up interviews, where they will learn more about students’ experiences.

They are hoping to hear from a diverse and varied range of voices across the province, and are asking students at the U of O to fill out the survey.

Coulombe says the team has put a lot of work into making the survey questions “fluid” in order to allow students the ability to describe themselves and their identity accurately.

“In most general surveys for the general population, you have ‘men, women, and other.’ This was unacceptable to us, so we spent a lot of time reviewing best practices,” Coulombe says. “We’re providing a more comprehensive list of gender identities.”

Respondents will be asked first to select all the gender options they identify with, then to narrow it down to the single best one for statistical analysis.

The survey is also completely bilingual, and doesn’t ask for names of respondents — though it does ask if they would be willing to take part in interviews for subsequent study phases.

The survey will be open online until the end of April.

The team, which is headed by Laurier professor Michael Woodford and also includes assistant professor Zack Marshall, intends to package the results once all four phases of the study are complete.

Not only do they intend to release a series of webinars based on their findings, but they will produce “individualized reports” for various institutions across Ontario.

“(LGBTQ+) students are interested in getting engaged (with these issues) in a real way,” Coulombe says. “From the start, we wanted to not only document the experiences of (LGBTQ+) people, but also to look at the potential solutions that we can further explore and recommend to the universities.”

Students who identify with a minority gender or sexual identity can take the survey at the Thriving on Campus website.