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Coming-out at Catholic and non -Catholic colleges and universities

Mark J Miceli, Johnson & Wales University


Providing supportive services and a welcoming environment to lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students on college and university campuses can help LGB students in their identity development. Some religiously affiliated institutions struggle to find the balance between support for LGB students and religious doctrine. With a deeper understanding of the difference between Catholic and non-Catholic campus climates and availability of services, student affairs staff will be better equipped to support the needs of LGB students. The purpose of this study is to examine the differences between campus climate at Catholic institutions and non-Catholic institutions and the perceived limitation of programs and services with regard to LGB students. Current research focuses primarily on being LGB on a college or university campus and the relationship of a campus climate to LGB identity development. While maintaining their religious affiliation and supporting the institutional mission, leaders and staff at religious institutions should also be able to support LGB student identity development. A review of the literature reveals several broad content areas critical to this study: the social and sexual identity development of students, LGB student campus climate, and the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality. This study used a sequential mixed method, explanatory quantitative first approach with priority given to the quantitative data collection. The quantitative data was collected using an on-line survey and the qualitative data was collected using focused interviews. The findings of both the quantitative and qualitative data collection were integrated at the interpretation stage of the research study. The quantitative results (N=158) was analyzed using one-way ANOVA and descriptive statistics; while the qualitative results ( N=4) was analyzed using the constant comparative method. The study found no significant difference between campus climate at Catholic and non-Catholic institutions. There was, however, a significant difference in the perceived limitation of programs F(1, 155)= 26.525 and services F(1, 155)= 26.27 at Catholic institutions both at the significance level of .001. The study also found that students rely heavily on their close friends for support during the coming-out process. This supports the need for ally and safe space programs on all campuses.

Subject Area

Religious education|Developmental psychology|Gender studies|Higher education|LGBTQ studies

Recommended Citation

Miceli, Mark J, "Coming-out at Catholic and non -Catholic colleges and universities" (2009). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3355077.