Educating about LGBQ diversity in introductory college courses
Information concerning sexual minorities is conspicuously absent from secondary education curriculums. Student attitudes toward sexual diversity are impacted, and those entering higher educational environments are at a disadvantage when faced with diverse university populations. This study attempted to close the information gap among first year college students and to improve attitudes by teaching about sexual minorities, especially gays and lesbians. In addition to their standard coursework, 41 student participants (31 in the intervention group, and 10 in the control group) who were enrolled in required introductory college courses received six short lessons on sexual diversity. Mixed methods data collection and analysis included a pre and post intervention survey, the Riddle Homophobia Scale (1985), and qualitative electronic discussion boards throughout the intervention. Surveys revealed a significant decrease in negative attitudes but no increase in more affirming attitudes. Qualitative data showed somewhat inconsistent results with quantitative surveys, but allowed deeper analysis of the familial, social, religious and societal influences on student attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) people. Discussion includes possible explanations for the findings, suggestions for future research, and suggests refinements of the Riddle Homophobia Scale.