Black women and LGBT individuals of color may require more protection on college campuses because they're more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
Sexual assault victimization has a greater impact on minority college students, but cultivating a more inclusive campus environment could help at-risk students, two studies have found.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, students who think their college campus is more inclusive and more welcoming of sexual and gender minorities have a lower chance of being sexual assault victims. In a complementary study, researchers found that non-transgender women, black bisexual or gay men, black transgender individuals, and black women face a higher risk of sexual assault.
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Based on an analysis of 71,421 surveys from undergraduate students from 120 U.S. colleges between 2011 and 2013, the researchers reached the following conclusions:
* Black transgender individuals had higher odds of sexual assault than white transgender people
*Bisexual, non-transgender women had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexual women. Black women had higher chances of sexual assault than white, Latino and Asian women.
*Gay and bisexual men were had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexual men, and black men had higher odds than white men.
*Transgender people were nearly 300 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-transgender men.
*Non-transgender women were about 150 percent greater odds of being sexually assaulted in the previous year than non-transgender men
"Despite the formation of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in 2014, few interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing such assault. Even fewer interventions are tailored for racial and ethnic minorities, and not one intervention has been evaluated with sexual- and gender-minority people," said Robert Coulter, M.P.H., a doctoral candidate in Pitt Public Health's Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and lead author of both studies.
But there is hope for students at sexual and gender-inclusive colleges. In a second, complementary study, an analysis of nearly 2,000 surveys found that students who thought their campus was more inclusive of sexual- and gender-minority people had 27 percent lower odds of being sexually assaulted than their peers who felt their campus was less inclusive.
"If sexual assault prevention efforts solely focus on heterosexual violence, they may invalidate sexual- and gender-minority people's assault experiences and be ineffective for them," said Coulter. "To overcome this, existing programs could be augmented to explicitly address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and racism. And new interventions could be created specifically for sexual, gender, racial and ethnic minorities."