Methods: We used purposive and snowball sampling to recruit professionals who (1) identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, (2) worked closely with LGBTQ+ communities on campus SV prevention efforts, and (3) were based in the United States. We conducted 32 semi-structured interviews and transcribed them verbatim. We then analyzed the interviews using an iterative thematic content analysis approach as well as negative case analysis, member checking, engagement of a seven-person expert advisory group, and triangulation to enhance rigor.
Results: These interviews yielded four approaches to including or excluding LGBTQ+ students in campus SV prevention programs: (1) cisheteronormative approach, (2) disclaimer approach, (3) gender neutral approach, and (4) LGBTQ+-affirming approach. We also summarize recommendations for possible action steps across the social ecology for LGBTQ+-affirming campus SRV prevention. Individual level strategies included incorporating scenarios in bystander intervention programming that illustrate how cisheteronormativity contributes to SV, including LGBTQ+-specific examples in consent programming, and partnering with LGBTQ+ groups to develop SV prevention programming for LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, and students. At the relationship level, recommendations included establishing LGBTQ+-affirming roommate match programs, hiring LGBTQ+ people for SV-related and senior leadership roles, and developing partnerships between SV and LGBTQ+ organizations. Community-level strategies included ensuring LGBTQ+ people (especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are LGBTQ+) are in social marketing images, reallocating funds from sex segregated spaces (e.g., fraternities and sororities) to gender expansive spaces (e.g., LGBTQ+ social spaces), and funding LGBTQ+ celebrations. At the societal level, strategies included providing LGBTQ+-affirming comprehensive sex education in K-12, cultivating pipelines for LGBTQ-affirming research to reach practitioners, and advocating for transformative justice approaches.
Conclusions and implications: Future research is needed to develop and test both LGBTQ+-centered and LGBTQ+-affirming interventions. Study findings suggest that even prevention educators who are aware of the harm of a cisheteronormative approach may still be excluding LGBTQ+ students using disclaimer or gender-neutral approaches. Federal recommendations for campus policies and procedures could be enhanced through a better understanding of how LGBTQ+ communities, and especially LGBTQ+ Black and indigenous students and students of color, often seek healing and accountability outside of criminal legal and Title IX processes. Through efforts driven by the leadership and expertise of LGBTQ+ people, we will hopefully see more LGBTQ+-affirming campus SRV prevention efforts that move campuses toward an end to cisheteronormativity and the violence to which it contributes.