Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type

Restricted Dissertation


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students in higher education have not been a targeted demographic for sexual violence prevention and response resources, despite experiencing campus rape and sexual assault during the college years (Richardson, Armstrong, Hines, and Palm Reed, 2015; Wooten, 2014). Instead, gender normative, heterosexual women comprise the primary target of both the research on campus sexual violence as well as prevention and response resources. To challenge the traditional focus on campus sexual assault research, this study asks: what is the incidence rate of sexual violence for LGBTQ students; what are the factors or characteristics associated with the risk of sexual violence for LGBTQ students; what are the behaviors and decision-making processes of LGBTQ student survivors of sexual violence; and what are LGBTQ students’ perceptions of their universities regarding sexual violence response and prevention resources? The researcher obtained a sample of 526 surveys from self-identified LGBTQ college students using an online survey questionnaire distributed at four public higher education institutions in a Midwestern state during the 2015-2016 academic year. The survey questionnaire included an option for participants to submit a narrative of their experience with campus sexual violence. Analysis of the quantitative responses found that one in seven participants experienced a coercive sexual assault; one in seven participants experienced an assault while incapacitated; and one in fourteen participants experienced an assault through physical force. Notably, bisexual students and cisgender women were disproportionately victims of sexual violence in this study. Additionally, study findings revealed that campus residence and sexual orientation were predictive factors for experiencing coercive and forced sexual assaults. Preliminary analysis of the qualitative responses has found that LGBTQ students are sensitive to heterosexist themes in their sexual assault prevention curricula and may feel pessimistic about their university’s capacity to respond to all victims of sexual violence, including LGBTQ victims. The findings of this dissertation study provide much needed insight into how LGBTQ students experience sexual violence in higher education. The findings also indicate the need to shift away from traditional, and highly gendered, approaches to sexual violence prevention in higher education.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Arbuthnot, Keena