Graduate student researches LGBTQ discrimination

Drew Parker

Visual Communication Design graduate student Jason Goupil began a research project on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) discrimination in January to find what parts of campus are most prone to discrimination.

Since he began the study, Goupil has gathered about 65 participants from the Kent State LGBTQ community.

Goupil said he hopes the university can incorporate his design recommendations to help LGBTQ students through a system of printed pieces, such as posters and websites.

The survey is being conducted to give me an idea of specific places where discrimination happens on campus,” Goupil said. “There’s a map where they can indicate areas that they feel very safe, neutral areas, and places where harassment has happened or continues to happen.”

After finishing the survey and a series of one-on-one interviews, Goupil plans to find specific areas where discrimination is prevalent on campus and study them.

“Following interviews, my hope is that it draws a conclusion towards one or several areas. I hope to zone in on one area and validate the survey and interview findings,” Goupil said. “With any study my goal is to always write up an analysis report on them and speak at conferences about the work as a way to share solutions.”

Christina McVay, a Provost Faculty Associate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said she has been researching Kent State’s LGBTQ campus climate for several months and submitted her findings to the national Campus Pride website, which gauges the “gay-friendliness” of college campuses.

“It’s a sad fact that there’s still not just prejudice and discrimination against the LGBT community but there’s some pretty ugly harassment going on,” McVay said. “We can compare ourselves to all these other schools and look at the ones that have four and five stars and see where we can beef up our profile.”

McVay said although she has spoken with several LGBTQ students who have been harassed, she believes Kent State’s campus climate is improving.

“I don’t care what anyone thinks about homosexuality, but I think everybody agrees that no student should feel unsafe on a college campus and I have felt plenty of students who have felt unsafe here,” McVay said. “It takes time to change people’s hearts and minds and in the meantime we have to take measures to make people feel safe.”

Goupil said that although he feels he will find discrimination at Kent State based on research at other universities, he believes the university is making efforts to improve the inclusion of LGTBQ students on campus.

“Out of all the other subjects I’ve done, this project hits close to home for me,” Goupil said. “To think that Kent State is putting so much effort into the inclusion of LGBT students and that they’re willing to form departments of this nature is really impressive.”

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].