Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students on Community College Campuses: Coming-Out and Self-Actualization
The purpose of this qualitative study was to provide an understanding of how gay, lesbian, and bisexual students on community college campuses come out regarding their sexual orientation and how their self-actualization is affected by coming out, using Maslow’s theory of human motivation as the main theoretical lens. This study was intended to provide best practices in serving these students to community college faculty, staff, and administrators, and was thus meant to benefit gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) community college students. In-depth interviews with nine self-identified GLB community college students were done to collect data. Findings from this study show factors that are obstructive to GLB students in coming out; the presence of positive and negative campus experiences that affect a student’s ability to come out and the presence of positive and negative campus experiences that affect a student’s self-actualization. In addition, findings provide insight into the gaps in resources and services needed by GLB students in order to feel fully integrated into the campus community. Recommendations resulting from this study included replicating the study in other large, metropolitan areas and comparing the results from this study, and conducting the study at suburban and rural community colleges as the gay, lesbian, and bisexual students in these areas may be more isolated, less out on campus, and less self-actualized. Finally, a national study using quantitative methods to discover the campus climate for GLB community college students and the attitudes and beliefs of heterosexual people on community college campuses should be conducted.