During the spring of 2018, a survey was conducted by the UNC Charlotte LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus. The survey consisted of 562 UNC Charlotte students, faculty, and staff responses to get an insight of the climate here on campus. The purpose of the caucus was to understand how the people from that community felt about the safety on campus and whether there was an ability for them to be able to properly address the harassment that they have experienced.
The numbers are startling. The survey found that 92 percent of the people from the community that was a part of this caucus personally experienced at least one form of harassment and bias while being here on campus. In regards to the harassment on campus being serious enough to fear for their safety: 35 percent of transgender individuals, 23 percent of LGB students, and 27 percent of LGB faculty and staff agreed with this statement. When this same statement was given to students who are cisgender and heterosexual, only eight percent of the students agreed with it.
Many of the people that participated in the survey mentioned that they feel unsafe while attending the school. The people that identify themselves as transexual or gender fluid were believed to be the ones that are most likely to encounter prejudice out of all of the groups that were a part of the survey.
It was disclosed that the students at the school were the most common harassers and that most of the individuals have witnessed it and not personally experienced the harassment themselves. There have been research studies that have shown that if there is a negative climate surrounding the LGBTQ+ students, they’re more likely to hide their identities. This can have a negative effect in the long run because it can cause a lack of social support and affect their grades. This can also lead those students to contemplate leaving the university due to the negative environment around them.
“Many of us here at UNCC come from more conservative environments that have silenced and oppressed us…UNCC can and should be a place that allows all of us to grow in the best ways,” said Dr. Jessamyn Bowling, the Assistant Professor in UNC Charlotte Public Health Sciences.
In comparison to other institutions in the UNC system, UNC Charlotte is ranked seventh out of fifteen when it comes to making the LGBTQ+ community being included.
“To advocate for LGBTQ+ members of the UNCC community effectively and meaningfully, it is vital to have accurate information about their experiences of negotiating life on campus…we have tried to identify concrete goals to improve the climate at UNC Charlotte for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty,” stated Kent Britnall, who is the Associate Professor of Religious Studies and is also a member of the LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus.
In addition to the survey, there have been suggestions on changing UNC Charlotte policies and the campus culture. These suggestions include: protection from discrimination, LGBTQ+ and ally housing options, making name changing easier for the community, health care policy for trans folks that doesn’t discriminate against them, and a continuous dialogue between the UNC Charlotte Administration about the campus climate for the LGBTQ+ community.
“No student should be expected to learn in an environment that is unsafe or where there is harassment targeted at who they are. UNC Charlotte is lagging behind in North Carolina and across the country in its commitment toward LGBTQ inclusive policies, programs, and practices. In recent years, UNC Charlotte has not participated in the national Campus Pride Index in order to improve LGBTQ inclusion and safety. This climate report shows the real life, negative environment that exists at UNC Charlotte when it comes to LGBTQ bias and harassment. UNC Charlotte has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a Community Engaged institution. It is now time that they live up to those high standards for the LBGTQ community within their own institution,” said Shane Windmever, the current Executive Director of Campus Pride.