LGBTQ + usability on counseling center websites remains low, according to research.
Some college counseling center websites may actually discourage students in the LGBTQ + community from seeking mental health care and other supports, according to a study released this week.
According to a study by Jasmine Mena, associate professor of psychology at Bucknell University, and student Carolyn Campbell, campus counseling websites tend to be more LGBTQ + friendly in states with laws on campuses. hate crimes and non-discrimination in employment. “While we may wish to see our schools as independent units, these results show that higher education institutions and state-level policies are actually interconnected,” Mena said. “All higher education institutions should do a self-assessment and know how they present themselves to current and future LGBTQ + students. “
The public school websites the couple studied had significantly more LGBTQ +-friendly content than those in private schools. Yet their overall findings revealed that LGBTQ + usability on counseling center websites remains low and has not improved in recent years.
Mena and Campbell gave school websites a usability score based on the following questions:
- Does the site address LGBTQ + specific resources in the context of individual counseling, group counseling and couple counseling?
- Are there any references to LGBTQ + peer groups?
- Do the counseling center staff list their preferred pronouns, such as her / his / their / their / their, in their biographies?
- Does the site’s statement of support state a willingness to provide services regardless of the student’s sexual orientation or gender identity?
- Are counseling center staff trained in LGBTQ + concerns and sensitivity?
- Does the website provide information on how LGBTQ + students can get help outside of regular working hours?
- Can students find information on how to get support outside of college?
Among states with protections against hate crime and discrimination, California scored 5.17 on friendliness, while Massachusetts and New York scored 3.50 and 2.88, respectively. In states without these protections, scores included Ohi0 (1.88), Pennsylvania (1.83), and Michigan (1.67).
Along with revising websites, the study could encourage campus leaders to lobby lawmakers and other decision-makers to adopt lawmakers that make campuses and communities safer and more welcoming, Mena says. “We are not neutral spectators,” she said. “We have a bigger role to play.