Method: Participants were recruited for this cross-sectional study through an anonymous, on-line survey distributed through social media. On-line recruitment was used to enhance anonymity and accessibility for participants This sample included 409 current college students in the United States who identified as a sexual minority and had experienced sexual assault since they started attending their current college. The majority of the sample were white (86.6%, n = 354), identified as either female (51.3%, n = 210) or male (17.6%, n = 72) and over half were between the ages of 18 and 20 (53.8%, n = 220). Approximately 10% (n = 41) of survivors in the sample had reported the incident to college officials.
Results: Independent-sample t-tests were conducted to compare perceptions of how campus officials respond to sexual assault between survivors who made a formal report to campus officials and those who did not. There was a significant difference in the perceptions of those who made a formal report (M = 27.4, S.D = 7.78) and those who did not (M = 31.09, S.D = 6.91; t (226) =2.99, p = .003, two-tailed). The magnitude of the difference in the means (mean difference = 3.69, 95% CI: 1.26 to 6.12) was medium (Cohen’s D = .5), indicating that survivors who had reported to campus officials had a significantly more negative perception of campus response. Next, open ended questions of students who did report were coded and analyzed for themes. Major themes identified were feeling less safe on campus after reporting, a lack of accountability in Title IX adjudication outcomes, and lack of communication and timeliness during Title IX investigations.
Implications: Results of this study indicate that the experience of reporting sexual assault to Title IX officials may be negative for some LGBQ survivors. College officials should consider this when assessing mandatory reporting policies, training Title IX investigators, and reviewing procedures related to adjudication outcomes. Social work practitioners invested in improving response efforts on campus should advocate for transparency in adjudication procedures and increased education for college officials who work with LGBQ survivors.