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ECU surveys GLBT students, employees

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Nov. 6, 2008)   —   Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) students, faculty and staff at East Carolina University have been asked to take an anonymous survey about their campus experiences.

“There appears to be a need for an outlet on this issue,” said Linda Mooney, the ECU sociologist conducting the study. “I’ve had people write me and say, ‘I hate surveys, but I’m glad to participate in this one. This is the first time anybody has asked me about this.’”

The survey, which can be completed online now through Nov. 18, is sponsored by the Department of Sociology in conjunction with the ECU Center for Survey Research, the Center for Diversity and Inequality Research and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Student Union.

Researchers hope the study raises awareness about GLBT persons on campus – a group Mooney calls the “invisible minority” – and provides information on ways the university can improve their environment for working, living and learning.

The idea for the study originated from the ECU Climate Survey done in 2007 for the Chancellor’s Diversity Council. That study looked at how employees and students gauge access, inclusion and level of respect for individuals or groups on campus.

After seeing those results, Mooney felt more could be learned about the GLBT population at ECU. She decided to focus a study on the group, developing an ECU-specific survey with the help of graduate student Kelly Bristol.

Their online questions assess if and how GLBT persons on campus experience harassment or discrimination. The survey asks for recommendations on how the campus climate can be improved, and in one section, invites GLBT students to reflect on their recent experiences in high school.

Mooney said data will be used to determine ways to improve the campus climate. Preliminary results will be available by the end of the year, and she will be working with Kimberly Baker-Flowers, ECU’s chief diversity officer, on the next steps.

Bristol, who is monitoring the online survey, said, as of the first week in November, a number of people had participated already. “We’re getting very good responses,” she said.

Marieke Van Willigen, interim chair of the Sociology Department, said she was pleased that her department could be active in GLBT issues and noted an increase in campus-wide interest on the topic.

“It’s amazing to see the number of people across multiple disciplines at the university doing research on gay and lesbian issues,” she said.

Mooney said this attention reflects society’s growing interest in the topic. “It is one that’s being discussed at a variety of levels, and I hope my survey plays an important role in the discussion here,” she said.

The survey is available online at http://www.ecu.edu/glbt and takes a few minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous.


 


Contact: Linda Mooney | 252-328-6137