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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Seven: Heteronormativity Fractured and Fused: Exploring the College Experiences of Multiple Marginalized LGBT Students


← 77 | 78 → CHAPTER SEVEN

Exploring the College Experiences of Multiple Marginalized LGBT Students


The college years provide a rich environment in which many students are exposed to new ideas and perspectives differing from their own. Friedman and Leaper (2010) acknowledged that “college especially can provide opportunities for identity exploration” and that “social support may also increase during college” (p. 153). Students often experience development in interpersonal, intrapersonal, and epistemological ways, the processes of which depend on both identity and context (Baxter Magolda, 2004). Yet, for Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or transsexual (LGBT) students, the college system may be more complex to navigate than it is for students who identify as heterosexual because of heteronormativity that shapes those environments. LGBT students who are also underrepresented because of their race or ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, religion, or ability may struggle to find reinforcement for their academic and social growth. Previous research about the LGBT population has established a need to address the ways in which sexual orientation and gender identity intersect with other aspects of one’s identity (D’Augelli, 1994; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Renn & Bilodeau, 2005). This chapter explores the experiences of college students who are marginalized because they identify as LGBT and with another identity that is marginalized in the United States. Specifically, it foregrounds research on how sexual orientation and gender identity intersect with race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, age, and ability.

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