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The Journal of Higher Education

ISSN: 0022-1546 (Print) 1538-4640 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uhej20

Queer and Trans* Students of Color: Navigating

Identity Disclosure and College Contexts

Jason C. Garvey, Steve D. Mobley Jr., Kiara S. Summerville & Gretchen T.


To cite this article: Jason C. Garvey, Steve D. Mobley Jr., Kiara S. Summerville & Gretchen T.
Moore (2019) Queer and Trans* Students of Color: Navigating Identity Disclosure and College
Contexts, The Journal of Higher Education, 90:1, 150-178, DOI: 10.1080/00221546.2018.1449081

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2018.1449081

Published online: 18 May 2018.

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2019, VOL. 90, NO. 1, 150–178

Queer and Trans* Students of Color: Navigating Identity

Disclosure and College Contexts
Jason C. Garveya, Steve D. Mobley, Jr.b, Kiara S. Summervilleb,
and Gretchen T. Mooreb
Leadership and Developmental Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, USA;
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama,


The purpose of this study was to explore outness among under- Received 22 June 2017
graduate students who identify as queer and trans* people of Accepted 4 March 2018
color (QTPOC). Data for this study originated from The National KEYWORDS
LGBT Alumni Survey and included 386 QTPOC respondents. We Gender; identity disclosure;
utilized analysis of variance (ANOVA) to explore differences in outness; QTPOC; queer; race;
outness across racial identities for QTPOC students and linear sexuality; trans*
regression to understand the relationship between contextual
influences and outness using Abes, Jones, and McEwen’s (2007)
reconceptualized model of multiple dimensions of identity as a
framework. We also analyzed participants’ open-ended responses
to understand how QTPOC students navigate meaning making
across their gender, racial, and sexual identities. The ANOVA was
significant for outness, F(3, 382) = 6.93, p < .001, with a medium
effect size (ƞ2 = .05). The linear regression analysis explained 44%
of the variance in outness among QTPOC student respondents
(p < .001). Narratives from the open-ended responses offered
additional perspectives and further informed how QTPOC stu-
dents navigated and made meaning of their identity disclosures.
Overall, our results emphasize that QTPOC students navigate
their racial, gender, and sexual identities in complex manners as
they negotiate their levels of outness while in college.

Queer and trans* students of color are oftentimes rendered invisible within
higher education contexts and are also intensely aware that if they choose to be
“out,” this visibility may also lead to vulnerability (Oliver, 2016). While navigat-
ing the intersections of several salient identities, queer and trans* people of color
(QTPOC) move between many states of consciousness as they seek acceptance
while also evading harm, battling stereotypes, and potentially being ostracized
due to their identities (Mitchell & Means, 2014). The multiple dimensions of
race, sexuality, and gender further add to the complexity of their lived experi-
ences and oppressed identities. “Conversations about how one negotiates the
intersections of both their queer and their racial identity are often far less
common when talking about the coming out process” (Higgins, 2017, para. 6).

CONTACT Jason C. Garvey jcgarvey@uvm.edu

© The Ohio State University

Several tensions are present because being “out” is a privilege that many QTPOC
students are not often afforded, especially when compared with White queer and
trans* individuals. There is a harsh reality in understanding that White queer
and trans* students have privileges that QTPOC students do not.
For QTPOC students, the college experience can be tenuous due to isola-
tion and marginalization. The complex nuances that encompass their distinct
identities create a unique narrative for QTPOC students, especially in the
ways in which they navigate and make meaning of outness and identity
disclosure. The intersection of race, sexuality, and gender is a significant
component in the everyday lives of QTPOC students. These students are
often torn between their multiple identities as they move between social
groups that focus more on race, sexuality, or gender (Misawa, 2010). Thus,
QTPOC students are often faced with a tenuous choice regarding how they
express their minoritized sexual, gender, and racial identities within society
and the extent to which they disclose their identities within collegiate

Language clarification
Throughout our manuscript, we chose to use the terms queer and trans* to
represent the fluidity and non-normativity of people with marginalized
sexual and gender identities, respectively. Although terms like lesbian, gay,
bisexual, trans*, and queer (often denoted in the acronym LGBTQ) are
more widely used in higher education literature, these identity classifica-
tions may not resonate with QTPOC as much as White queer and trans*
people. Poynter and Washington (2005) stated that terms such as lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and trans* are often terms that relate to White culture and
that many people of color distance themselves from those terms.
Furthermore, these terms are somewhat limiting because they suggest a
permanent status and present contrasting viewpoints that QTPOC may
hold (Patton, 2011). As such, we use queer and trans* to represent the
complexities of sexual and gender identities while centering people of
color in our examination. We also understand that the use of an asterisk
is contested and have chosen to use the term trans* to reflect the limita-
tions of a solitary identity (Nicolazzo, 2017).
We recognize that outness may not and should not be viewed as a desired
or attainable outcome for all. Disclosing one’s sexual and/or gender identity
is a personal process and one shaped by external contexts. Although we do
not advocate outness as the goal of all QTPOC students, we recognize the
importance of outness as a developmental process (D’Augelli, 1994). Most
studies examining outness privilege dominant assumptions of Whiteness,
and through our study, we sought to center people of color within outness
research. Rather than comparing QTPOC student identity disclosure relative

to White students, we foreground QTPOC students as distinct and important

on their own.

Literature review
Higher education settings are oftentimes volatile for QTPOC students due to
the pervasive presence of harassment and violence, chilly campus climates,
and discriminatory experiences with various campus resources (Alvarez &
Schneider, 2008; Marine & Nicolazzo, 2014; Westbook, 2009). During the
past decade, there has been an emergent discourse underscoring how
QTPOC students reconcile their identities while navigating their postsecond-
ary contexts. As such, we situated our study within the extant literature that
has addressed these students’ distinct experiences.

Campus environments for queer and trans* students

Cocurricular contexts are of paramount importance in understanding how
queer and trans* students navigate their campus environments and identity
disclosure. LGBTQ centers and support groups are significant resources that
provide support for queer and trans* students while affirming their identities
(Marine & Nicolazzo, 2014; Westbook, 2009). These spaces are vital because
LGBTQ spaces offer immense opportunities for queer and trans* students to
find community and support. Establishing and developing a social group
helps LGBTQ collegians develop a sense of purpose and creates positive self-
esteem (Gray & Serge, 2014). Regarding identity disclosure, students who are
more out are more likely to utilize LGBTQ institutional resources and attend
LGBTQ events compared with their peers who do not as readily disclose their
identity (Garvey & Rankin, 2015).
Peers are central for LGBTQ student support and community (Garvey,
Sanders, & Flint, 2017). In addition, connecting with resource centers or student
groups focused on LGBTQ support helps students develop the relationships they
need to be successful in college. LGBTQ student organizations provide support on
and off campus by connecting students to LGBTQ-friendly opportunities within
the institution and community and creating affirming spaces through mentorship
and activity programming (Pitcher, Camacho, Renn, & Woodford, 2016).
Academic disciplines are a microclimate of students’ college environments
and greatly shape queer and trans* students’ identity development and out-
ness (Garvey & Rankin, 2015; Hughes, 2017). Queer and trans* collegians
must often navigate negative classroom contexts, including being silenced in
the classroom (Misawa, 2010), hearing heterosexist and genderist remarks
from classmates (Linley & Nguyen, 2015), or not being included by faculty
members in queer or trans* topics (Garvey & Rankin, 2015; Pryor, 2015).
Trans* students in particular have expressed difficulty in navigating

situations such as having their classmates looking at them and exploiting

their experiences versus looking with them to understand their experiences
(Duran & Nicolazzo, 2017).
Faculty members can support queer and trans* students by challenging
negative thoughts among cisgender and heterosexual students and by pro-
moting inclusive language in the classroom (Garvey & Rankin, 2015).
Additionally, faculty can promote learning opportunities for students to
develop competencies in LGBTQ-specific topics and can engage in allyship
within their campus communities (Hughes, 2017; Linley et al., 2016; Linley &
Nguyen, 2015).

Outness among queer and trans* individuals

Outness refers to the extent to which queer and trans* people disclose their
sexual and/or gender identity to others (Sorgen, 2011). Queer individuals
differ in how and if they disclose their sexual identities (Legate, Ryan, &
Weinstein, 2012). The existent literature has argued that disclosure of one’s
sexual or gender identity can be a healthy and positive developmental process
(Kosciw, Palmer, & Kull, 2015; Villicana, Delucio, & Biernat, 2016; Weisz,
Quinn, & Williams, 2016). Coming out has “historically been constructed as
a process by which individuals pass through a series of key stages on a
pathway from a split self into a person whose sexual orientation has been
fully integrated into a healthy, whole self” (Klein, Holtby, Cook, & Travers,
2015, p. 317). Kosciw and colleagues (2015) found that because of outness,
LGBT youth experienced higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression.
Few researchers have explored identity disclosure for trans* people
(Garvey & Rankin, 2015; Zimman, 2009). However, studies have shown
that trans* individuals oftentimes do not have a choice in whether they
come out due to name changes or modifications to their physical appear-
ances (Rankin & Beemyn, 2012). When considering outness among colle-
gians, higher education contexts are especially relevant because of their
relationship to identity disclosure. Negative campus experiences can hinder
identity disclosure for queer and trans* students (Rankin, Weber,
Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010). Higher levels of identity disclosure may also
create negative perceptions regarding institutional support among queer and
trans* students (Garvey & Rankin, 2015).

Queer and trans* students of color

There is a dearth of research that has examined QTPOC students and
particularly studies that have explored outness and identity disclosure. The
scholarship that exists has asserted that the level of outness among QTPOC
differs from that of White queer and trans* students (Moradi et al., 2010;

Patton, 2011). Clark (2005) discussed that sexual identity is often a foremost
identity for White queer people because it is often their most marginalized
identity. However, QTPOC most likely have multiple marginalizing identities
and experiences.
Queer and trans* people of color must navigate both internal and external
processes when negotiating outness and identity disclosure. Jourian (2017)
explored the perceptions of masculinity/ies among trans*masculine students.
For trans*masculine students of color, “colonialism, respectability politics,
and being seen as threats as racialized beings” (Jourian, 2017, p. 257) are all
aspects of these students’ experiences. Internalized homophobia may hinder
identity disclosure and, lead to concealment to protect oneself from hetero-
sexist stigma (Moradi et al., 2010). Patton and Simmons (2008) examined the
concept of coming in versus coming out for QTPOC students. The concept
of coming in describes how a person copes with their internal sense of self in
response to how external forces influence their identities. Mitchell and Means
(2014) explored the experiences of Black gay and bisexual men at predomi-
nantly White institutions (PWIs) and found that these students faced chal-
lenges when navigating the complexities of their racial and sexual identities
from a position of a double minority.
Moradi and colleagues (2010) posited that QTPOC experience tension with
identity disclosure and reverence to their culture, family, and community con-
nections. Camacho (2016) wrote that Latino men experienced barriers and
opportunities through multiple borderlands between identities, cultures, and
worlds. Villicana and colleagues (2016) contended that identity disclosure
affected the experiences of queer Latinx men due to their cultural values of
community inclusion, which likely necessitates nuanced constructions of mas-
culinity on college campuses. Eaton and Rios (2017) explored the social chal-
lenges queer Latinx college men experienced during the coming-out process.
This study highlighted how Latinx “cultural values . . . produce unique experi-
ences of sexual identity navigation and disclosure among queer, Latino college
men” (Eaton & Rios, 2017, p. 464). The researchers found that queer Latinx men
experienced social challenges while coming out and endured a loss of familial
relationships, peer aggression, and self-pathologizing behaviors. Strong familial
relationships, or familismo, are essential in Latinx culture (Andrés-Hyman,
Ortiz, Añez, Paris, & Davidson, 2006). Due to their upbringings, Latinx queer
individuals may construct identities that emphasize masculine and feminine
gender dichotomies (Peña-Talamantes, 2013).
Finally, there is limited research on Asian/Asian American queer and trans*
students. Strayhorn (2014) studied gay Asian men and their academic and social
lived experiences. Findings from his study suggested that U.S.-born Korean men
went to college to recuse themselves from oppression at home and foreign-born
Korean men went to college to flee from antigay oppression in Korea. Akerlund
and Cheung (2000) discussed the importance of familial relationships on how

Asian and Asian American gay men navigate their outness during their college
years. Similar to queer Latinx and Black students, Asian-American queer stu-
dents oftentimes come from communities where being gay or lesbian is seen as
an affront to traditional family roles (Akerlund & Cheung, 2000). Narui (2011)
found that when Asian American queer students chose to be out, they gained a
degree of agency with their disclosure in different environments (e.g., home,
church, higher education). Poon and Ho (2008) posited that gay Asian men
negotiate and reframe the social stigma of their bodies and desire for White men
when navigating their racial and sexual identities.
Recent studies have focused on the experiences of multiracial LGBTQ
people (Hudson, 2015; Hudson & Mehrotra, 2015; King, 2011; Kunstman,
2017). Scholars in the field of social work have studied how multiracial and
biracial queer individuals lean on community for well-being and how geo-
graphy and migration are meaningful factors in individuals’ narratives
(Hudson, 2015; Hudson & Mehrotra, 2015). Kunstman (2017) studied how
biracial and multiracial lesbian, gay, and bisexual students made meaning of
their experiences as undergraduate student leaders. King (2011) studied how
external environmental factors influenced identity formation in students who
identified as multiracial/biracial–bisexual/pansexual; these students described
the development of their racial and sexual identities as separate but simulta-
neous processes because of the external factors that influenced development.

Purpose and research questions

The purpose of this study was to explore outness among undergraduate
students who identified as QTPOC. The following questions guided our

(1) Are there differences in outness among QTPOC students who identify
as Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American, Black/African American,
Latinx, or Multiracial?
(2) To what extent do QTPOC students’ identities and contextual influ-
ences relate to their outness?

Positionality statement
We represent a collective of coauthors across social identities (e.g., Black and
White racial identities; gay, queer, and heterosexual sexual identities; cisgen-
der man and cisgender woman gender identities). Our individual narratives
are formed through the intersections of our multiple identities and uniquely
shape our relationships with QTPOC students, experiences and perceptions
of outness and identity disclosure, and campus contexts. In addition to our

social identities, we also approached our work through our current and
previous professional roles within higher education and student affairs,
including academic advising, faculty, LGBTQ student services, residence
life, service and leadership, and student support services, among others. We
provide our social identities and professional roles to position ourselves
within our purpose and relative to QTPOC students.

Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework for this study was based on Abes, Jones, and
McEwen’s (2007) reconceptualized model of multiple dimensions of identity
(R-MMDI). Jones and McEwen’s (2000) original model of multiple dimensions
of identity attended to the interactive relationship between students’ self-percep-
tions of multiple identity dimensions, including racial identity, gender identity,
and sexual identity, among others. The R-MMDI incorporates students’ mean-
ing-making filters to understand the complexity and depth of students’ capacity
of making meaning of contextual influences. Students’ meaning-making capa-
cities enable them to understand both what relationships they perceive with their
social identities as well as how they come to perceive these intersecting identities.
Contextual influences include the relationship between students’ meaning mak-
ing of multiple identity dimensions and their external environments. Abes and
colleagues (2007) noted that contextual influences are closely connected to
perceptions of identity. Developed from a constructivist paradigm, students’
identities are representative of their performative and involvement decisions
throughout their undergraduate experiences. As such, students’ contextualiza-
tions of their identities are a complex and fluid relationship between external
influences and meaning-making capacity. Abes and colleagues discussed that
“[f]urther research should address other factors . . . such as campus climate . . .
[to] account for how students perceive certain contextual influences” (p. 19).
Such an assertion is true for QTPOC students who make meaning across the
intersections of their identities in campus contexts that shape their understand-
ing of self.
The empirical model for this study was based on Abes and colleagues’ (2007)
R-MMDI. Students’ multiple identities represented self-perceptions of multiple
identity dimensions (i.e., race, gender, sexuality). Cocurricular contexts, curri-
cular contexts, and campus climate formed contextual influences as articulated
by Abes and colleagues. Finally, we examined QTPOC students’ meaning-
making filters through open-ended responses. As we considered our theoretical
frame while analyzing open-ended responses, we were given the opportunity to
more closely examine how students come to make meaning of the relationship
between their social identities and contextual influences, including cocurricular
and academic involvements and perceptions of campus climate. Attending to
the interactive nature among context, meaning making, and identity perceptions

among QTPOC undergraduate students enables a nuanced understanding of

QTPOC undergraduate students’ identity development and disclosure.

Data collection
Data for this study originated from The National LGBT Alumni Survey
(Garvey, 2016). The National LGBT Alumni Survey included closed- and
open-ended questions to allow respondents to provide quantitative and
open-ended insights regarding their experiences as LGBTQ undergraduate
students and alumnx.1 Data collection techniques included non-probabilistic
chain-referral (Semaan, Lauby, & Liebman, 2002), point people (Miles &
Huberman, 1994), and snowball sampling (Faugier & Sargeant, 1997).
Using point people, namely campus administrators and alumnx leadership,
was a critical step in recruiting and involving LGBTQ alumnx (Miles &
Huberman, 1994). Our research team initiated the sampling communication
process by first contacting campus administrators and alumnx leadership at
select 4-year institutions from each state, while focusing on institutions with
preexisting LGBTQ alumnx outreach and/or established programs for students.
We requested that these point people e-mail a brief description and survey link
to LGBTQ alumnx and constituencies. To incentivize institutional participation,
we offered personalized LGBTQ alumnx reports for every institution with 50 or
more respondents. We used an electronic flyer to advertise the online electronic
survey instrument via listservs within higher education and student affairs,
alumnx relations, and LGBTQ advocacy. We also advertised electronically via
social media, including Twitter and Facebook (Johnson, Drezner, Garvey, &
Bumbry, 2016).

In total, we used 386 cases from the national data survey for this study and
only included respondents who graduated in 2004 to 2013 and identified as
QTPOC students. The sample population included the following racial iden-
tities: 16% (n = 63) Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American; 20% (n = 78)
Black/African American; 21% (n = 81) Latinx; and 43% (n = 164) Multiracial
(i.e., selected “Multiracial” and/or two or more racial identities). Within the
sample, more than half (58%, n = 225) of respondents identified as cisgender
men, 32% (n = 123) identified as cisgender women, and 10% (n = 37)
identified as trans* or another gender identity. The sample population
included the following sexual identities: 65% (n = 254) lesbian, gay, or
bisexual; 31% (n = 119) queer, pansexual, or fluid; and 4% (n = 13) another
sexual identity (i.e., heterosexual, asexual, questioning).

Participants attended public (N = 206, 53%) and private (N = 180, 47%) 4-

year institutions across 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Regarding urbanization, a majority of participants attended an institution in
a city (N = 254, 66%), with fewer attending institutions in the suburbs (N =
105, 27%) or town/rural locations (N = 27, 7%). Fifteen (4%) respondents
attended a historically Black college or university (HBCU).
Regarding cocurricular contexts, 31% (N = 121) of respondents partici-
pated in a cultural/international club, 9% (N = 34) in a culturally based
fraternity or sorority, 45% (N = 173) in an LGBTQ student organization, and
13% (N = 49) in a religious organization. More than half (52%, N = 200) of
respondents lived in campus housing, 5% (N = 21) in fraternity/sorority
housing, and 42% (N = 163) in noncampus housing. A majority of respon-
dents (85%, N = 330) had used LGBTQ student services at least once, 11% (N
= 42) did not use any LGBTQ student services, and 4% (N = 14) did not have
LGBTQ student services available at their institutions. The sample popula-
tion consisted of the following major classifications: 18% (N = 71) arts and
humanities (e.g., English, history, dance); 35% (N = 137) science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (i.e., STEM); 30% (N = 117) social and
behavioral sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology, criminal justice); and 16%
(N = 61) professional programs (e.g., education, nursing, business).

The outcome used in this study was outness, a construct adapted from Sorgen’s
(2011) Outness subscale among a national sample of nonheterosexual under-
graduate students, which he adapted from Mohr and Fassinger’s (2000) Outness
Inventory. Outness measures the extent to which undergraduate students disclosed
their marginalized sexual and/or gender identity across six dimensions within
postsecondary contexts: around close friends; around extended friends; when they
met new people; with professors, faculty, and instructors; with people where they
lived; and with members of campus activity groups. Response options were on a 5-
point Likert scale, with 1 indicating not at all out and 5 indicating completely out.
All nine scores were added together and divided to create a composite outness
score, and then scores were standardized for ease of interpretation (M = 0.00,
SD = 1.00).
Campus climate describes “the overall ethos or atmosphere of a college
campus mediated by the extent individuals feel a sense of safety, belonging,
engagement within the environment, and value as members of a community”
(Renn & Patton, 2010, p. 248). We developed a factor to represent percep-
tions of campus climate for LGBTQ students using principal axis factoring
(Thurstone, 1935, 1947) with oblique rotation to improve the meaningfulness
and interpretation (α = .83; Appendix B). This factor measured how welcom-
ing an institution was for LGBTQ people when the alumnx was an

undergraduate student. Scores were standardized so that low scores on the

LGBTQ undergraduate campus climate factor indicated negative perceptions
of campus climate and high scores corresponded to positive campus climate
perceptions (M = 0.00, SD = 0.92).
Two variables measured the number of LGBTQ faculty/staff and students
who respondents knew as undergraduate students. Both constructs included
quasicontinuous response options (1 = none; 2 = 1–2; 3 = 3–5; 4 = 6–8, 5 = 9–11;
6 = 12 or more). The average scores among respondents were 4.91 out of 6.00
(SD = 1.53) for LGBTQ students known and 2.62 out of 6.00 (SD = 1.36) for
LGBTQ faculty/staff known. Appendix A details the means, standard deviations,
and coding schemes for all independent and outcome variables.

Data analysis
To answer the first research question, we utilized analysis of variance
(ANOVA) to explore differences in outness across racial identities for
QTPOC students. To understand the relationship between contextual influ-
ences and outness for QTPOC students, we employed a linear regression
analysis using Abes et al.’s (2007) R-MMDI to create four separate variable
blocks: social identities, cocurricular contexts, academic contexts, and
LGBTQ campus climate perceptions.
We supplemented quantitative analyses with participants’ narrative
responses to open-ended questions to explore QTPOC students’ meaning
making regarding outness and identity disclosure. This approach is what
Creswell (2009) identified as a concurrent triangulation strategy, “when a
researcher uses two different methods in an attempt to confirm, cross-
validate, or corroborate findings in a single study” (p. 217). To contextualize
the quantitative findings, we analyzed one open-ended question from the
survey that read, “If you would like to elaborate on your undergraduate
experience, please do so here.” Of the 386 total respondents, 83 answered
this question. In addition, we also included open-ended responses from 6
Native American respondents who we could not include in the quantitative
analysis due to low sampling numbers.
We used deductive coding and intercoder agreement (Creswell, 2009) to
illuminate key themes and narrations based on regression results. Deductive
coding allowed us to engage in a process in which our themes were attained
based on our theoretical framing (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). Furthermore,
this process situated the open-ended responses within the meaning-making
element of the R-MMDI model.

Findings cannot be generalized to all QTPOC students as the sample is not
representative of all QTPOC students because of our nonprobabilistic chain-
referral, point people, and snowball-sampling techniques. As there is cur-
rently limited information on the true population of LGBTQ students, we
have no way of identifying if our sample is representative nationally.
Furthermore, the limited number of QTPOC respondents in the data set
limited the sophistication of our analyses given sample size constraints. We
provide detailed descriptive statistics and multiple analyses, so that readers
can critically engage with the results relative to the sampling limitations of
the study.
In addition, because the data were analyzed post- hoc, we were unable to
control for other factors or ask probing questions that would give additional
information on QTPOC student experiences. This limitation most directly
related to our campus climate construct, which operationalizes perceptions of
campus climate for LGBTQ collegians. Items within this factor examined
how welcoming an institution was for LGBTQ when the alumnx was an
undergraduate student, and they did not attend to climate perceptions
among students of color at their alma maters. Although we were able to
explore racial campus experiences and climate perceptions via open-ended
responses, the survey instrument did not enable us to collect similar data

In our Results section, we integrate both quantitative and open-ended results
to illuminate key themes and insights related to our two research questions.

Navigating race and outness

An ANOVA was calculated to explore differences in outness among QTPOC
students across racial identities. The ANOVA was significant for outness, F
(3, 382) = 6.93, p < .001, with a medium effect size (ƞ2 = .05). Latinx
(M = 0.22, SD = 0.93) and Multiracial (M = 0.14, SD = 0.97) queer and
trans* students had higher levels of outness than Black/African American
(M = −0.24, SD = 1.03) and Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American
(M = −0.36, SD = 0.98) students. In other words, QTPOC respondents
who identified as Latinx and Multiracial disclosed their identities at greater
rates than did Black/African American and Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi
American queer and trans* respondents (Table 1).
Narratives from the open-ended responses offered additional perspectives
and further informed how respondents navigated and made meaning of their

Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and ANOVA for Outness.

Level of Outness
Race N M SD
Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American 63 -0.36 0.98
Black/African American 78 -0.24 1.03
Latinx 81 0.22 0.93
Multiracial 164 0.14 0.97
Total 386 0.00 1.00
F (3, 382) 6.93 ***
ƞ² 0.05
Note. *** p < 0.001.

racial identities and how “out” they were able to be during their under-
graduate years. Responses often conveyed the tensions and conflicts that were
apparent as meaning making grew complex due to their campus context or
peer relationships. Several graduates of PWIs expressed that they experienced
tensions while negotiating their racial, sexual, and gender identities. Their
ability to embrace their minoritized sexuality and/or gender identities was
constantly in conflict with their racial identities. Much of this internal
discord was due to the oftentimes tense racial climates that were embedded
into their respective campus environments. Congruent to our quantitative
findings, a Black gay man expressed that much of his reticence to be out
during his undergraduate years at a large, public state university was because
he was forced to navigate a hostile racial climate. He expressed:

There were also a lot of race-related social issues that I encountered. My room-
mates were attacked by the police and when the story hit the campus newspaper, a
lot of people defended the police because we were ‘niggers’ and deserved such
treatment. All of this overshadowed my issues with being an LGBT student.

His response conveys how the salience of his racial identity greatly affected
how he made meaning of the pressures that are often apparent among Black
students who have to navigate anti-Blackness and additional oppressed
identities. The aforementioned statement is especially true when considering
how collegiate contexts strongly influence the perceptions of QTPOC stu-
dents and how they perceive how their campus responds to their racial,
gender, and sexual identities. A sexually fluid genderqueer Native Hawaiian
participant also shared similar sentiments of how their racial identity was at
odds with their sexuality during their time in college and shared, “I was a
student of color in addition to being LGBT, and those two communities did
not mix well.”
Conversely, there were QTPOC graduates who felt comfortable with their
racial and sexual identities. They believed strongly that there was a need for
QTPOC students to disrupt and transgress their collegiate contexts by being out.
As these respondents made meaning of their multiple identities while navigating
their respective campus contexts, they also had to decide if and how they would

choose to be out. To them, being out at times created feelings of anxiety and
trepidation, but they also felt that openly embracing and expressing their queer
identities was a necessary act of resistance. A Latina lesbian female participant
I would say that no matter what campus/safety conditions, I would have come out.
To me, freedom was coming out even though I didn’t always feel safe. I knew
someone needed to be out. So was it safe for students to be out? Not necessarily for
students of color that was not the case, but, I had to be OK with that.

These responses illustrate that although QTPOC students face obstacles, they
also find courage in being out on their college campuses. Open-ended
responses within this study underscored that QTPOC graduates who chose
to be out during their undergraduate years were fully aware that they held
identities that were in the margins. However, several participants decided
that although they were read as queer and trans* and people of color, they
did not have to be invisible. They wanted to provide representation on their
campuses to provide opportunities for diverse expressions and perspectives.
Within their complex meaning-making filters, alumnx respondents illumi-
nated their abilities to reconcile their multiple identities while also often
resolving the relationship with how their higher education environments also
perceived them.

Cocurricular contexts and outness

We ran a linear regression analysis using Abes et al.’s (2007) R-MMDI
framework as a model with four blocks: social identities, cocurricular con-
texts, academic contexts, and campus climate for LGBTQ students. The
linear regression analysis with all independent variables explained 44% of
the variance in outness among QTPOC student respondents (p < .001;
Table 2). To check multicollinearity between variables in the model, we
confirmed that variance inflation factor values did not exceed 10 (Table 2)
and correlations between each of the independent variables did not exceed
0.5 (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). To assess independence of residuals, we
determined fewer than 0.5% of cases had standardized residual values greater
than 3.0 or less than −3.0. The largest value for Cook’s distance was .06,
suggesting no major problems for independence (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007).
Respondents who identified as queer or trans* and Asian/Pacific Islander/
Desi American (ß = −.11, p < .05) had lower levels of outness. Two cocurri-
cular contexts positively related to outness for QTPOC students: LGBTQ
student organization involvement (ß = .22, p < .001) and the number of
LGBTQ students known (ß = .18, p < .001). Conversely, two cocurricular
contexts negatively related to outness for QTPOC students: living in campus
housing (compared with living in noncampus housing; ß = −.20, p < .001)

Table 2. Level of Outness Regression Analyses.

Block and Variable β p VIF
Social Identities
Race: Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American -0.11 * 1.66
Race: Black/African American -0.06 1.74
Race: Multiracial -0.05 1.86
Gender identity: Cisgender woman -0.06 1.24
Gender identity: Another 0.03 1.35
Sexual identity: Queer, pansexual, fluid 0.00 1.46
Sexual identity: Another -0.02 1.10
Co-Curricular Contexts
LGBTQ students known 0.18 *** 1.84
Co-curricular: Cultural/international club -0.04 1.17
Co-curricular: Culturally based fraternity or sorority -0.02 1.19
Co-curricular: LGBTQ student organization 0.22 *** 1.36
Co-curricular: Religious organization -0.05 1.09
Living: Campus housing -0.20 *** 1.19
Living: Fraternity/sorority -0.04 1.15
LGBTQ student services: Did not use any -0.12 ** 1.38
LGBTQ student services: None available 0.06 1.25
Academic Contexts
LGBTQ faculty/staff known 0.14 ** 1.50
Major: STEM -0.09 1.42
Major: Social and behavioral sciences 0.00 1.47
Major: Professional programs 0.01 1.42
Campus climate for LGBTQ students 0.29 *** 1.34
R² 0.441 ***
Note. Reference groups for Race (Latinx), Gender identity (Cisgender man), Sexual identity (LGB), Living
(Non-campus housing), LGBTQ student services (Used at least once), and Major (Arts and humanities).
Note. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001.

and not using any LGBTQ student services (compared with using LGBTQ
student services at least once; ß = −.12, p < .01).
Open-ended responses further confirmed the significance of LGBTQ stu-
dent organization involvement among QTPOC students’ meaning making.
Respondents noted that their involvement in LGBTQ student organizations
was integral to their feeling like part of their campus communities. A lesbian
Latinx woman expressed:

Although my undergraduate university wasn’t LGBT-friendly, I loved my time

there because of the overwhelmingly strong sense of community I got from the
LGBT community there. Being involved with the LGBT student groups at my alma
mater was the best part of being an undergrad.

Conversely, open-ended narratives also highlighted the difficulty for QTPOC

students to be out, thrive, and be involved on their campuses. Several
respondents noted that although they were involved on their campuses,
their ability to be out was hindered due to the visibility often associated
with being a student leader. A Black lesbian woman noted, “I attended a
historically Black institution (HBCU). It [was] still taboo to be LGBT and
hold leadership positions within student organizations and be out.”

The effects of a lack of access to queer and trans* communities on

campus were also made apparent within open-ended responses. Many
respondents made it known that having queer and trans* friendships and
connections was critical to their undergraduate experiences. A Black
bisexual woman noted:
I felt utterly alone for most of my undergraduate years. It wasn’t that I didn’t have
friends, I did. The problem was that I didn’t have LGBT friends who would
understand my perspective on things. I just never felt like I could truly be myself,
and that had an overwhelmingly negative impact on my academic performance
and social life.

Academic contexts and outness

Academic contexts were also significant relative to outness and identity
disclosure among QTPOC student respondents. Those QTPOC partici-
pants who knew more LGBTQ faculty/staff were more out (ß = .14,
p < .01) on their respective campuses. Open-ended responses revealed
nuanced perspectives and meaning making about the academic experiences
of QTPOC students. These students felt more affirmed when their institu-
tion offered LGBT and queer studies programs and when faculty members
addressed topics related to race, sexuality, and gender in classes. A Latinx
queer woman expressed, “When I was in undergrad, women and gender
studies was my absolute savior!” This student’s response underscores the
critical importance for faculty and staff members to create holistic intel-
lectual spaces that are inclusive of issues that are germane to diverse queer
and trans* communities.
There were also instances when some respondents had hostile or adverse
encounters with faculty members. A Latinx bisexual male wrote, “I was
president of the Gay and Straight Alliance, and I experienced negativity in
my classes when representing the group. I witnessed LGBT bashing in
courses and I had to speak out against this ignorance.” Unfortunately,
many respondents reported being confronted with instances of discrimina-
tion from faculty members due to their sexuality and/or gender. Being out in
the classroom had negative consequences and a considerable impact on their
academic experiences. A genderqueer Pacific Islander student described the
following instance:
I was discriminated against and wrongfully accused by a biology professor for
plagiarism after I stood up for my classmate who was transgender. The professor
was bashing her and using her political views to do so. The student felt really
uncomfortable and eventually dropped out of school.

These examples shed light on the complex politics in higher education

classroom environments. Queer and trans* students are often forced to

navigate toxic environments where queerphobic and transphobic faculty are

present. Respondents made it known that their academic spaces had the
potential to become distressing, especially if they were out.

The influence of campus climate on outness

Regression results revealed a significant and positive relationship for outness
and perceptions of campus climate for LGBTQ students (ß = .29, p < .001).
Participants’ open-ended responses provided further evidence that for
QTPOC students, both negative and positive perceptions of campus climates
have considerable effects on their undergraduate experiences.
Several QTPOC graduates discussed how their campus climates were
supportive of queer and trans* students. They expressed that the validation
they received from faculty members, administrators, and peers was integral
to their undergraduate experiences. A Native American gay man noted, “My
institution was actually very warm and inviting to the LGBT community.
When Westboro attempted to picket the campus, heterosexual students stood
up with us in protest.” Respondents also discussed how their affirming
campus climates offered them opportunities to embrace their identities due
to the various forms of support that were present on their respective cam-
puses. An Asian gay man expressed:
My campus was one of the most LGBTQ-friendly spaces I have ever been in. It is a
safe and inclusive space, made of a community that strives to be aware. I grew into
my queerness on my campus, came out there, and received an overwhelming
amount of support not only from my peers but from faculty, advisors, and
resources on campus.

Whereas many open-ended responses focused on the considerable influence

that peers, faculty, and administrators had in creating positive campus
climates for LGBTQ students, other respondents indicated the significance
of symbolic campus gestures. To these graduates, the presence of emblematic
symbols (e.g., LGBTQ safe-zone signs) signified that their institutions wel-
comed queer and trans* students. A Black queer woman observed:
I remember the first day I walked around the campus, I saw a rainbow flag in one
of the windows next to the front steps of the Student Union, and that made me
very happy to see our ubiquitous symbol in plain sight and made me feel very

Queer- and trans*-affirming symbolism set a pivotal tone, conveying that

campus environments were welcoming to QTPOC students.
Many graduates also articulated instances in which their campuses were
openly hostile to queer and trans* communities. Open-ended responses
exposed incidents in which respondents endured harassment and bullying
not only from their peers, but from professors and administrators as well.

Several respondents revealed extreme resistance to trans* communities. An

Asian transman noted, “I was closeted trans* in college and there were no
real accommodations or acknowledgement of trans* people outside of the
LGBT center.” Similarly, a Latinx transwoman expressed that her university
was void of inclusive policies for trans* students and noted, “My university
did not have a trans-inclusive health care policy nor were its financial aid
policies accommodating of LGBTQ students who were disowned by their
Respondents also revealed how they were often forced to stifle their queer
and trans* identities due to having to navigate unwelcoming campus cli-
mates. A trans* masculine Alaska Native graduate expressed, “My institution
was very unwelcoming . . . The LGBT group was still having meetings where
the location was secret.” Similarly, a pansexual genderqueer respondent also
felt that their institution was unwilling to embrace its queer and trans*
students. They wrote, “A student burned a gay pride flag on my campus.
The administration did nothing. They didn’t even release a statement—not
until the media all the way over in Britain got wind of it.” What was also
particularly salient among the open-ended narratives was that several respon-
dents discerned that even with the presence of LGBTQ resource centers and/
or programming, pervasive instances of discrimination still occurred. A
Latinx gay man stated:

Though my university had an LGBT center and programs to support LGBTQ

students, the general population was still outwardly hostile to LGBTQ students
when they were ‘out’ with their sexuality. Women holding hands or men who were
too ‘flamboyant’ were still open to hate speech and physical threats.

The aforementioned instances further convey how college and university

campus climates regularly exhibit cultures that are perceived by queer and
trans* students to be less inviting or unwelcoming when compared with their
peers. Campus climate experiences of QTPOC students directly influenced
their comfort with openly disclosing their sexual and/or gender identities.

Within many postsecondary environments, QTPOC students live “invisible
lives” whereby their narratives and experiences are often silenced (Squire &
Mobley, 2015). Currently, there is a dearth of research on QTPOC students
that has examined how multiple social identities (i.e., race, sexuality, gender)
influence how these students engage with their campus communities, families,
and friends (Mitchell & Means, 2014; Patton, 2011; Washington & Wall, 2010).
It should also be noted that the decision to be out is not a clear, straightfor-
ward, or circuitous pathway. Queer and trans* students of color find

themselves constantly making the decision to come out and live in their truths
on a daily basis in social, familial, and academic contexts (Samuels, 2003).
While an increasing number of QTPOC students are arriving to their
respective campuses already out, there are many within these communities
who experience the identity disclosure process after arriving to college
(Berila, 2011). Race, sexuality, and gender are social constructs that often
present political complexities for QTPOC students who are at the intersec-
tion of several marginalized identities (Means et al., 2017). Indeed, Berila
(2011) wrote that QTPOC “[s]tudents might be scared, confused, empow-
ered, and/or enthralled with their developing sense of queer identity” (p.
103). Thus, numerous tensions are often present for QTPOC surrounding
their ability and/or choice to be out during their undergraduate years.

Reconciling multiple identities and outness

Overall, our results emphasize that QTPOC students navigate and make meaning
of their racial, gender, and sexual identities in complex manners as they negotiate
their levels of outness while in college. A finding that was quite surprising was that
Latinx respondents disclosed their sexual identities at greater rates than the Black/
African American and Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American participants. This
finding challenges and confronts the extant literature regarding Latinx queer and
trans* people. Due to intense cultural pressures, Latinx queer and trans* indivi-
duals are usually reticent to come out and often conceal their sexuality and/or
gender (Ascencio, 2011). These students regularly internalize the burden of need-
ing to perform in “traditional” sexual and gender-performing dichotomies
(Ascencio, 2011; Peña-Talamantes, 2013). However, the Latinx students in this
study disclosed their outness more willingly when compared with other QTPOC
respondents. This finding further illuminates the complexity surrounding the
manner in which Latinx QTPOC students face “dichotomies imposed by Latino
and American cultures, as well as by [queer] communities and educational institu-
tions” (Sánchez, 2014, p. 110).
Results concerning Asian/Pacific Island/Desi American respondents confirmed
previous research findings. They had the lowest levels of outness when compared
with the other QTPOC alumnx respondents. Several factors could have contrib-
uted to this finding, including racism within queer and trans* communities,
internalized queerphobia, and/or transphobia among other Asian/Pacific Island/
Desi American individuals and within Asian/Pacific Island/Desi American com-
munities (Strayhorn, 2014). Familial influence was another factor that may have
had an impact on identity disclosure, considering that similar to other commu-
nities of color, Asian/Pacific Island/Desi American students have to carefully
negotiate how they navigate and make meaning of heteronormative and patriar-
chal cultural traditions (Akerlund & Cheung, 2000; Poon & Ho, 2008). Outness
within Asian/Pacific Island/Desi American queer and trans* comminutes is also

made even more complicated due to ever-present issues surrounding how these
individuals navigate their gender, sexuality, and the “model minority myth” that
often expects assimilation or acculturation. Coming out has the potential to be
perceived as a betrayal or rejection of their culture, family, and collective identity as
a whole (Lee, 2014).
Our results also highlight how trans* students of color navigate decisions about
outness and disclosure. Rohrer (2015) asserted that it is critical for researchers to be
thoughtful and attentive when attempting to explore both outness and “transness”
(p. 175). Some trans* students of color choose to “pass” to circumvent and
“eliminate any sign of deviation from gender and sexual norms that are dominant
in heteronormative society” (Bailey, 2013, p. 58). In these cases, they may work
toward actively assimilating into their university contexts (Bey, 2017). For trans*
students who may choose to pass, they often view this complicated and multi-
layered choice as an act of preventative resistance to the discrimination and
transphobia that they could endure (Aizura, 2006). However, there are other
trans* students of color who selectively choose the manners in which they disclose
their gender identities. On the contrary, many trans* students of color only disclose
their identities to close friends or classmates, which may result in their being
misgendered or inaccurately perceived as cisgender by their professors, classmates,
or other trans* students (Nicolazzo, 2016a). It appears that one’s choice to publicly
identify as trans* is a choice that is not always solely made by trans* students
themselves (Nicolazzo, 2016b). Thus, passing, coming out as trans*, and the
disclosure process as a whole are reified across quite the complex spectrum for
trans* students of color.
The extant literature has also contended that among QTPOC students, their
choosing to be out is secondary or tangential to their racial identities (Grov, Bimbi,
Nanín, & Parsons, 2006; Patton, 2011). For QTPOC students, the powerful
combination of sexism, heterosexism, racism, queerphobia, and transphobia
greatly impacts their lived experiences (Follins, Walker, & Lewis, 2014). Many
found it difficult to disclose their sexuality and/or gender openly. When choosing
whether or not to be out within academic and social spaces, it was evident that
many of our participants prioritized their racial/ethnic identities in response to
several contextual barriers associated with environmental obstacles related to racial
tensions on their campuses (Wallace, Carter, Nanín, Keller, & Alleyne, 2002).
However, other QTPOC students demonstrated resilience and embraced their
racial, sexual, and gender identities. These students found strength in their queer
and racial identities and sought liberation from traditional gendered and hetero-
normative roles (Bowleg, 2013). Though several had to face toxic campus climates
that forced them to endure adversity and trauma as they navigated and made
meaning of their multiply oppressed identities, they still resisted and transgressed
their campus cultures in their choice to be out and visible entities on their
respective campuses.

Outness and navigating academic/cocurricular contexts

The results from our study fill a significant gap in higher education and
student affairs literature regarding how QTPOC students navigate their out-
ness within academic and cocurricular contexts, and they reaffirm the com-
plexities that lie within QTPOC student experiences. The importance of
institutional contexts is quite relevant as it pertains to the manner in which
QTPOC students navigate and make meaning of how they negotiate their
multiple identities and higher education settings (Abes et al., 2007). The
systems of privilege, power, and oppression that are inherent in society also
influence how students understand their multiple identities within different
institutional contexts (Dooley & LePeau, 2016). In particular, graduate
respondents from HBCUs emphasized the impact that their unique campus
cultures had on their abilities to be out during their undergraduate years.
While HBCUs have served as educational spaces that affirm their students’
racial identities, many of these institutions compel queer and trans* students
to suppress their sexual and/or gender identities during their undergraduate
careers (Mobley, 2017; Mobley & Johnson, 2015). This contrast presents
quite the developmental quandary for QTPOC students. As colleges and
universities continue to become more diverse with respect to race, sexuality,
and gender, it is imperative that these educational spaces expand their
understandings of the complexities involved in the experiences of students
with multiple marginalized identities (Hayes, Chun-Kennedy, Edens, &
Locke, 2011).
This study also reaffirms that while QTPOC students may experience
tensions with their multiple identities, campus environments, peer commu-
nities, and involvement in academic and cocurricular experiences have the
potential to positively affects their identity development (Renn, 2007;
Sánchez, 2014). Our results showed that the presence of LGBTQ student
organizations is of critical importance to QTPOC students within postse-
condary contexts. These campus organizations afford QTPOC students with
forums to mobilize and opportunities to create community and engage vital
discourses surrounding LGBTQ issues on their respective campuses.
Furthermore, these student-run organizations offer QTPOC students essen-
tial spaces to seek and find a sense of belonging that nurtures student
retention and success.
Respondents also noted the necessity of community and informal relation-
ships with peers as influential to their campus experiences. Having positive
relationships with peers helps QTPOC students feel more affirmed about
their experiences in the college setting. Students’ open-ended responses high-
lighted an intense meaning-making complexity that manifested in the lived
experiences of QTPOC students and reaffirmed the critical importance for
QTPOC students to have the presence and support of like-minded

individuals during their undergraduate careers. Environmental influences

including cocurricular involvement and the ability to form relationships
with other queer and trans* students have considerable impact on QTPOC
students’ higher education experiences.

Our study contextualized and framed the tensions surrounding how QTPOC
students navigate and make meaning of their multiple identities and outness. In
our work, we examined outness as a dimension of QTPOC students’ sexual and/or
gender identity development. There are consequences for QTPOC students who
disclose their identities, including stigmatization on and off campus and the stress
associated with negotiating their oppressed identities (Goode-Cross & Tager,
2011). We encourage future research that examines and problematizes current
identity development literature and in particular outness as a desired and necessary
developmental process for queer and trans* collegians. Such examinations are
important given the unique racialized narratives for QTPOC students regarding
identity disclosure (Grov et al., 2006; Mitchell & Means, 2014).
Within our study, we deliberately centered the experiences of queer and
trans* communities of color and attempted to resist standards of Whiteness,
as they often create deficit-laden assessments in scholarly inquiry. We
recommend that scholars consider similar approaches while also exploring
the possibilities of quantitative research using critical approaches. Critical
quantitative research can challenge existing policies, theories, and measures
and reexamine traditional questions for nontraditional populations (Stage &
Wells, 2015; Wells & Stage, 2015). With a growing interest in critical
approaches to quantitative research, we further emphasize the importance
of attending to oppressive methods within higher education research and
implore scholars to center individuals with marginalized identities when
making survey design, sampling, and analytical decisions.
More research that further illuminates the complexities that lie in the multiple
identities among QTPOC students is central for future sustained scholarly inquiry,
policy creation, and campus programmatic interventions. It is imperative for
scholars to consider systemic societal issues in conjunction with the queer and
trans* student experiences. To understand QTPOC students better, researchers
must also delve into the systematic, overt and covert institutional practices and
traditions that exist and function with racism, genderism, transphobia, and homo-
phobia. In particular, we encourage scholars to utilize critical and poststructural
theoretical paradigms to contextualize power, privilege, and oppression across
social identities, including critical race theory, queer theory, and intersectionality.
Such theoretical paradigms will enable researchers to explore pervasive racism and
White supremacy in LGBTQ spaces, as well as heterosexist and gendered oppres-
sion in spaces of color.

Although our study did not uncover the overt and covert racism that QTPOC
students regularly face within queer and trans* communities, it does not mean that
these experiences of racism do not exist within higher education contexts. Queer
and trans* students of color are often forced to contend with racist acts and other
forms of intolerance that derive from their White queer and trans* peers (Poynter
& Washington, 2005). A rift is present where White queer and trans* students have
and continue to silence QTPOC students in their quest for a liberation that does
not include those queer and trans* individuals who hold oppressed racial identities
(Boykin, 2005). We recommend that future studies intentionally challenge, con-
front, and analyze how QTPOC students make meaning and navigate both intra-
racial and interracial conflict.
Regarding the influence of collegiate environments on QTPOC identity dis-
closure and development, we encourage increased research across and within
institutional contexts. In particular, scholars should explore the unique contexts
of minority-serving institutions (MSIs) for QTPOC students because MSIs play an
essential role in educating students of color (John & Stage, 2014). Within LGBTQ
research, more scholarship is needed to understand the role of race and racism in
LGBTQ resource access and community among LGBTQ collegians, which would
require foregrounding QTPOC student narratives and quantitative responses in
data collection and analyses.

During the past 50 years, researchers have documented a grand narrative of
progressive change, greater resource access, and increased programming for
LGBTQ collegians (Fine, 2012; Garvey et al., 2017; Marine, 2011; Rankin,
Weber, & Garvey, 2015). These advances have likely contributed to more affirming
environments for queer and trans* students to disclose their identities, but scholars
have yet to examine how QTPOC students experience identity disclosure through
their multiple marginalized sexual, gender, and racial identities. Although there is
an emerging body of work in higher education and student affairs that explores
how QTPOC students encounter their higher education contexts, researchers must
continue to center and elevate the voices and experiences of QTPOC students.

1. Alumni/ae and alumnus/a are plural and singular designations, respectively, for grad-
uates based on gender. Rather than relying on terms that reinforce gender as a binary
construct, we chose to use alumnx for both plural and singular designations to
represent graduates across the spectrum of gender identities.

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Appendix A
Principal Axis Factoring and Coefficient Alpha

Item Loading
Campus Climate for LGBTQ Students (α = .81)
When I was a student, my campus was uninviting for people who were LGBT. 0.74
I believe my undergraduate alma mater was hostile for people who were LGBT. 0.70
LGBT students felt safe on my campus when I was a student. 0.81
I felt open to disclose my LGBT identity on campus without fear of repercussions. 0.65
I feared for my physical safety because of my LGBT identity. 0.53

Appendix B
Descriptive Statistics and Coding for Independent and Outcome Variables

Variable Coding M/frequency SD/%

Social Identities
Race: Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 63 0.16
Race: Black/African American 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 78 0.20
Race: Latinx 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 81 0.21
Race: Multiracial 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 164 0.43
Gender identity: Cisgender man 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 225 0.58
Gender identity: Cisgender woman 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 123 0.32
Gender identity: Trans* or another 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 37 0.10
Sexual identity: Lesbian, gay, bisexual 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 254 0.65
Sexual identity: Queer, pansexual, 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 119 0.31
Sexual identity: Another 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 13 0.04
Co-Curricular Contexts
LGBTQ students known 1=None; 2=1-2; 3=3-5; 4=6-8; 5=9-11; 4.91 1.53
Co-curricular: Cultural/international 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 121 0.31
Co-curricular: Culturally based 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 34 0.09
fraternity or sorority
Co-curricular: LGBTQ student 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 173 0.45
Co-curricular: Religious organization 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 49 0.13
Living: Campus housing 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 200 0.52
Living: Fraternity/sorority 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 21 0.05
Living: Non-campus housing 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 163 0.42
LGBTQ student services: Used at least 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 330 0.85
LGBTQ student services: Did not use 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 42 0.11
LGBTQ student services: None 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 14 0.04
Academic Contexts
LGBTQ faculty/staff known 1=None; 2=1-2; 3=3-5; 4=6-8; 5=9-11; 2.62 1.36
Major: Arts and Humanities 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 71 0.18
Major: STEM 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 137 0.35
Major: Social and behavioral sciences 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 117 0.30
Major: Professional programs 1=Yes; 0=Not selected 61 0.16
Campus climate for LGBTQ students Standardized factor; higher 0.35 0.88
score=higher agreement
Outcome Variable
Outness Composite score; higher score=higher 0.00 1.00