Five respondents received a score of 6, showing that they have little knowledge of the campus resources. Only four respondents received a score of 15, showing that they have much knowledge of campus resources. The mean score is 10.75; the most frequent scores are 10 and 11, with eleven respondents receiving either of these scores. The mean of 10.75 shows that most people are either unsure or neutral about the resources available on campus. In order for the mean to correspond with having more knowledge of resources, it would have to be at least 12, where most people would have answered 4—somewhat agree, to the three questions on the scale. However, 54.4% of the respondents scored an 11 or higher. This indicates that there are more respondents who have a greater knowledge of the resources for sexual minorities on campus than those who do not.
There were some correlations between different factors determining comfortablity (see Appendix E). There were correlations between the SMCS and the RECMCS, the number of groups for racial, ethnic, and class minorities and if the respondent lived on- or off-campus (Residence), and the PRCSMS and the PSMICS.
The most important correlation found was between the SMCS and the RECMS. This shows that there is a correlation between a person’s comfortablity with racial, ethnic, and class minorities and a person’s comfortablity with sexual minorities. If a person is more comfortable with racial, ethnic, and class minorities, they tend to be more comfortable around sexual minorities as well.
There is a significant correlation between the number of known diversity groups on campus and whether the respondent lived on- or off-campus. If the respondent lives on campus, then they may be exposed to more information about clubs and club activities than a person who lives off-campus and who is only on-campus for classes. This could increase a person’s comfort level by knowing of and attending events sponsored by the different diversity groups on campus.
There was also a significant correlation between the PSMICS and the PRCSMS. If the respondent has taken courses in which sexual minority issues are discussed, then they may also be aware of the resources available on campus. If the professor has a lot of knowledge of issues of sexual minorities, then the professor could be a resource for the students to use to obtain information about sexual minority issues. Also, many professors give extra credit for participating in events that are held on campus if the topics are relevant to their classes. If one of the resource areas on campus is having an event, then students may go where they would learn more about the resources on campus.
DISCUSSION Overall, this study shows that students at Saint Mary’s College are more comfortable with racial, ethnic, and class minorities than with sexual minorities. Because of time and sample restraints, it is difficult to know how open Saint Mary’s College is to sexual minorities. The demographics of Saint Mary’s College are fairly homogonous in regards to race and religion, so it is difficult to know how race and religion impact the environment for sexual minorities. There is no demographical information about sexual orientation available from the college (Appendix D).
One of the ways in which a person can learn and understand the oppression of all minorities is through education. Many respondents believe that they have had classes and that there are resources available at Saint Mary’s College about racial, ethnic, class, and sexual minorities. By having access to these classes and resources, students can learn about issues from a critical perspective. Perhaps as the students learn about how one group of minorities is oppressed, they can apply this knowledge to other groups. Or perhaps when a student understands stereotypes about one minority are not true, they become skeptical of stereotypes of other minority groups.
However, the visible presence of minorities is also a factor that may allow students to understand minority issues in a way they cannot from the classroom setting. Respondents who have completed multiple diversity courses were the most knowledgeable about minority groups on campus and the resources available. Whether respondents had learned about minority groups and resources on campus through the classes taken, or whether they took classes because they already are aware of issues is not known. More research is needed in order to determine the order in which the respondents learned about issues of sexual minorities.
By learning about these minority issues, the oppressive heterosexist structure can begin to change. Some students responded that they would feel comfortable with diversity until they felt like a minority on campus, thus indicating that students are comfortable as long as the status quo does not change. This fear of a loss of power and status is one of the major factors that keep a hierarchal structure in power. In the case of sexual minorities, homophobia keeps the social structure in place. The data here indicates that students are open to both racial/ethnic/class and sexual minorities to some degree, but there is a fear of sexual minorities.
Because homophobia keeps sexual minorities in fear, it does not allow sexual minorities to fully be themselves because there are repercussions in society if they do not follow the hegemonic norms of the society. These repercussions range from losing one’s job to death. There is a need for people to learn more about the issues of sexual minorities and the oppression that they face everyday. By not knowing or choosing to ignore these issues, people contribute to the oppression and the fear continues to perpetuate throughout society.
Ending the oppression and fear of sexual minorities is a long process.. Despite the claims that the discrimination does not exist, the fight for sexual minority rights and the end of homophobia continue to grow. To help fight against the oppression of sexual minorities is as easy as learning about issues online, going to an event to help end discrimination against sexual minorities, or correcting someone when they use homophobic language. Even though change is a slow process, it is a process that people must contribute to in any way that they can in order to end this oppression for sexual minorities.
Appendix A: Racial, Ethnic, Class, and Sexual Minority Survey QUESTIONS #_________