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Identifying the Unique Needs of Generation Z Students Who Identify as LGBTQ+ Within Higher Education

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Noah Miller

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Faculty Advisors: Dr. Tiffany Chenneville and Dr. Kemesha Gabbidon

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Students from Generation Z (GenZ) have grown up in the age of technology, making their lived experiences and needs distinct from those of students in previous generations. This is especially true for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) who may have unique needs within the higher education environment. To explore the needs of GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+, interviews were conducted and recorded with students, faculty, staff, and administrators (N = 15) at a medium-sized southeastern university. Interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Findings revealed that GenZ students who identified as LGBTQ+ may need institutional support in the form of increased safe spaces, inclusive application processes, visibility of faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+, and greater resources for the transgender community. Findings also suggest that LGBTQ+ -related education may need to be reformed in higher education by revising existing trainings and by requiring ally trainings for faculty. In addition to the need for institutional support, GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+ also may need increased support from peers. There also appears to be generational differences in needs related to the existence and overuse of technology among GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+. These findings have important implications for the development and implementation of best practices for creating a safe and inclusive space for all students to succeed in higher education environments.

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Identifying the Unique Needs of Generation Z Students Who Identify as LGBTQ+ Within Higher Education

Students from Generation Z (GenZ) have grown up in the age of technology, making their lived experiences and needs distinct from those of students in previous generations. This is especially true for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) who may have unique needs within the higher education environment. To explore the needs of GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+, interviews were conducted and recorded with students, faculty, staff, and administrators (N = 15) at a medium-sized southeastern university. Interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Findings revealed that GenZ students who identified as LGBTQ+ may need institutional support in the form of increased safe spaces, inclusive application processes, visibility of faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+, and greater resources for the transgender community. Findings also suggest that LGBTQ+ -related education may need to be reformed in higher education by revising existing trainings and by requiring ally trainings for faculty. In addition to the need for institutional support, GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+ also may need increased support from peers. There also appears to be generational differences in needs related to the existence and overuse of technology among GenZ students who identify as LGBTQ+. These findings have important implications for the development and implementation of best practices for creating a safe and inclusive space for all students to succeed in higher education environments.

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