Intersectionality of Race and Sexual Orientation

Table of Content

In the United States, LGBTQIA related issues have increasingly become the focus of political media, social activism, and educational research and can often be a central hub for young student leaders in college to grow. LGBT students at all levels of schooling face difficulties related to their identity. These problems stem from peers, administrators and professors, organizations, and within themselves. A major issue facing students is bullying, including being called homophobic slurs (Poteat & Rivers, 2010), which is more prevalent for LGBT victims (Birkett, Espelage, & Koenig, 2009). The complexities of gender identities combined with just sexual orientation among college students and high school youth continues to pose a difficulty for those who do not identify as queer and/or transgender.

Marginalized LGBTQIA students and their allies have had to maneuver carefully through mazes to simply understand how to negotiate wearing their identity on their sleeve or to simply be openly LGBT. Too often the queer community that do not identify on either gender binaries are challenged to whether coming out of the closet is worth the time and effort. Coming out does not have a universal meaning among LGBQIA individuals but instead is different on the basis of an individual’s experiences, social environment, and personal beliefs and values. When speaking about genderqueer, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming identities can very much present another set of unique challenges to coming out compared to be open about sexual orientation. Genderqueer and gender non-conforming persons may experience more difficulty coming out openly because the current political climate is negative and they are often assumed to be gay, they can also experience greater opposition from family and friends who resist gender non-conformity.

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Students in higher education who are aware of the need to protect themselves from homophobia and transphobia know that there is a time and place for being out or wearing their identity proudly. There comes a danger to openly breaking the rules of the gender binary. The risk of discrimination, physical assault, and simply the growth of miscroaggressions can affect a student heavily. Consequentially, openly queer students are often academically disadvantaged. They have lower test scores and higher dropout rates than their peers (Cutuli et al., 2013). These students also face higher rates of psychological issues, substance abuse, and death driven by suicide compared to those who do not identify under the LGBTQIA umbrella.

Genderqueer and gender non-conforming students also understand too that the intersectionality of race affects how being gay is defined and recognized within their own diverse communities on collegiate campuses. With state resources funding limiting higher education, tools for the LGBTQIA collegiate community spreads thin, coordinating resources for faculty, staff and students may not always be prioritized at certain schools. This puts additional pressure on genderqueer and transgender students and their allies to be “proudly out” in order to advocate for their rights within their own school systems. This calls for these students to openly break the rules of the gender binary. From wearing opposing gendered clothing, wearing makeup when it is considered taboo, to physically transitioning and posing as gender deviants in hopes to empower positive change within the climate.

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Intersectionality of Race and Sexual Orientation. (2022, Jun 11). Retrieved from

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