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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 Sixteen: Hidden Populations and Intersectionality: When Race and Sexual Orientation Collide


← 184 | 185 → CHAPTER SIXTEEN

When Race and Sexual Orientation Collide


Asian/Americans are one of the fastest-growing groups of students within U.S. higher education. From 1996 to 2003, Asian/American (as defined by the U.S. Census and including noncitizens of Asian descent) student enrollment increased 31.6% or by 282,000 students (Ryu, 2009). As of 2004, nearly 950,000 undergraduate Asian/American students were enrolled in higher education (KewalRamani, Gilbertson, Fox, & Provasnik, 2007). Also, nearly 60% of all 18- to 24-year-old Asian/American students were enrolled in higher education, making their participation rate the highest among any racial or ethnic minority group (KewalRamani et al., 2007). These numbers do not include international students studying in the United States. During the 2012–2013 academic year, over 819,000 students from foreign countries were studying in the United States, of which a majority were Asian countries, as defined by the U.S. Census (Institute of International Education, 2013).

Participation rates for nonracial minority groups, such as gay, Lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) students, are more difficult to obtain; the demographic characteristics on admissions applications do not ask about sexual orientation. As a result, statistics regarding GLB student enrollment are more anecdotal. Nonetheless, with the average coming out age now between 14 and 16 years (down from 21 years in 1979; Marklein, 2004; Ryan, 2003; Tamashiro, 2007), many more young adults are starting higher education aware of their sexual orientation (Marklein, 2004). These statistics reflect the increased likelihood...

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