Anti-gay violence at the University of Saskatchewan : occurrences, mental and physical health consequences, and perceived effectiveness of support services
Balanko, Shelley L.
The present research documented the occurrence of anti-gay harassment and violence at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), examined the mental and physical health consequences of this form of victimization, and assessed participants' use and perceptions of student support services to provide insight into the U of S campus climate for homosexual students. In Study 1, self-report questionnaires and telephone interviews with current or former U of S students indicated that anti-gay discrimination, harassment, and violence affects members of the U of S gay community adversely. Verbal harassment was the most common anti-gay behavior reported. Mental and physical health consequences of this victimization were: depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, helplessness, nausea, and fatigue. There was substantial under utilization of U ofS support services, partially due to a fear of secondary victimization. Friends, family, and significant others were the most relied upon sources of support for dealing with an anti-gay experience. Study 2 examined heterosexual students' attitudes toward gay men and lesbians and their perceptions of the U of S campus climate for homosexual students. Male and female students held somewhat positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians; however males had significantly less positive attitudes toward both gay men and lesbians than females. Also, students held significantly more negative attitudes toward gay men than toward lesbians. The heterosexual students observed few overt signs of anti-gay attitudes on campus, but felt that the chance of an anti-gay attack on campus was likely. It is concluded that the U of S campus climate is perceived as potentially threatening for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals. Implications of the findings are discussed, including the impact of a non-affirming environment on the identity development of U of S students. Future directions for research and recommendations for an evaluation of support services for gay sensitivity, a homosexuality education campaign, and institutional policy reform are presented.