Under My Skin: Attitudes Toward Sexual Minorities Among Students, Staff, Faculty, and Administrators at an Urban Catholic University

Stack, Margaret, Kelly Bass, and Carla Groh

Introduction

The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of attitudes toward sexual minorities among members of an urban Catholic university, and how these attitudes influence curriculum and campus community.

Method

A cross sectional research design was used. The survey was posted on Flashlight and members of the university community received an email inviting them to participate. The survey consisted of six general areas related to Catholic teachings on same-sex relationships, social justice and human rights, 'coming out', and programs supporting sexual minorities. The survey included both closed and open-ended questions. Four parallel forms of the survey were developed for each of the groups surveyed: students, staff, faculty and administrators. The closed questions were analyzed using SPSS version 15.0, and the open-ended question responses were categorized into themes.

Results

A total of 509 individuals completed the survey: 244 students (response rate <.04); 140 faculty (response rate 0.48); 57 staff (response rate .22); and, 68 administrators (response rate .24). The average age of the respondents was 36 (SD 15.1), and they were primarily single, female, Caucasian and Catholic.

Two-way analyses of covariance were used to examine the effects of University role (student, staff, faculty, administrator) and gender (controlling for religious affiliation) for the study questions. Being a faculty member and female gender were significant predictors on several of the areas examined. In addition, ten themes emerged from the open-ended responses.

Conclusion

This survey represents an initial effort at better understanding the attitudes toward sexual minorities among members of an urban Catholic university. While the findings are encouraging, additional research is necessary to more fully explore the nuanced responses of each group surveyed. This was especially evident from the themes that emerged from the open-ended questions.