Abstract: Measuring LGBTQ2S+ Psychological Campus Climate: Developing and Validating the LGBTQ2S+ Perceived Campus Climate Instrument (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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669P Measuring LGBTQ2S+ Psychological Campus Climate: Developing and Validating the LGBTQ2S+ Perceived Campus Climate Instrument

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Michael Woodford, PhD, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, ON, Canada
Simon Coulombe, PhD, Professeur agrégé, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada
Kendra Hardy, MA, Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, ON, Canada
Background: Campus climate consists of experiential/behavioural and psychological/perceived aspects and can shape LGBTQ2S+ students’ wellbeing and academic success. Robust measures of LGBTQ2S+ experiential climate exist; however, psychological climate measures are limited in testing, comprehensiveness, and addressing the unique aspects of climate facing trans students and those with diverse gender expressions. We report on the development and testing of the LGBTQ2S+ Perceived Campus Climate Instrument, consisting of LGBQ and trans specific subscales and a gender expression subscale.

Methods: Development included literature and scale review; item development; assessing face and content validity via a survey with researchers and LGBTQ2S+ student affairs staff (N=21) and three focus groups with LGBTQ2S+ students (N=16); and item improvement. The instrument was psychometrically tested with LGBTQ2S+ students via a pilot study (N=380, 42.9% trans, 18.9% POC) and the Thriving on Campus Study (N=3,856, 28.9% trans, 24.2% POC). Both surveys included measures to assess various forms of validity; Pilot study: General Perceived Climate Scale, College Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (academic satisfaction, efficacy, connectedness), PHQ-4, and social desirability; Thriving Study: Perceived Stress, Mental Health Continuum-Short Form, and Academic Disengagement.

Findings: Pilot Study: A principal component analysis examined factorial structure, analyzing LGBQ, trans, and gender expression related items separately. For LGBQ climate, seven subscales emerged: negative collective attitudes/treatment, positive collective attitudes/treatment, inclusive policies, inclusive leadership, pedagogical representation, worry-potential mistreatment, and unsafe-campus spaces (α range .78—.94). Trans climate includes eight subscales (α range .71—.93) similar to the LGBQ subscales, but with slightly different item grouping, e.g., worry-potential mistreatment comprised two subscales: microaggressions and aggressions. A single-factor worry-potential mistreatment gender expression subscale emerged (α=.94). Correlations with social desirability were all below .20, except trans pedagogical representation r=.29. Correlations with the General Climate were as expected (negatively-valenced subscales range -.16—-.40; positively-valenced subscales range .41—.69). Overall, expected patterns of correlations with PHQ-4 (range -.45—.10) and College Student Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire subscales (range -.39—.60) were observed.

Thriving Study: Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the structure based on the pilot study (for LGBQ subscales: χ2(367)=4552.91; CFI=.91, TLI=.91; RMSEA=.056, SRMR=.044; for trans subscales: χ2(446)=1761.77; CFI=.91, TLI=.90; RMSEA=.059, SRMR=.067). Alphas were acceptable (range .71—.96). Negatively-valenced subscales correlated as expected with mental health indicators (positive mental health range -.16—-.29; stress range .15—.27) as did positively-valenced subscales (positive mental health range .15—.28; stress range -.09—-.19). Several of the climate subscales were correlated with academic disengagement in the expected directions, particularly the LGBQ, trans, and gender expression subscales focused on worries-mistreatment (range .20—.27).

Conclusions: The various subscales across LGBQ and trans groups and gender expression show acceptable internal consistency and expected patterns of correlations with indicators of convergent (e.g., general climate), concurrent (e.g., PHQ-4) and discriminant validity (e.g., social desirability). The findings provide researchers with a reliable and valid tool to assess LGBTQ2S+ psychological campus climate in a way that is a comprehensive and recognizes diversity among LGBTQ2S+ students. Implications for policy, practice, and research will be discussed.