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.