Why should education target women in sexual minorities & the LGBTQ+ community as a whole?

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

DISCLAIMER: A few things we should note here: adolescent experiences, attitudes, and social contexts explain some disparities. Secondly, the study has some questionable practices in terms of self-identifying gender. No pronouns were discussed and no non-binary/transgender gender identities mentioned. This study was from 2015. While their research is interesting and important, it doesn't cover our entire LGBTQ+ community. Take this with a grain of salt.

Education has never been one size fits all. Only in recent years have we began to understand the effects of alternate gender and sexual identity on education outcomes - namely graduation rates, college completion rates, and enrollment.

A national 2015 study on this topic brought a series of fascinating conclusions. Firstly, women in the study that identified as completely heterosexual had significantly higher educational attainment than sexual minorities. Even more seriously, bisexual women are 64% less likely to have graduated from high school than completely heterosexual respondents. Bisexual women are 48% less likely than completely heterosexual women to have ever enrolled in college, while there are no significant differences for mostly heterosexual or gay/mostly gay women.

Compared to completely heterosexual women, mostly heterosexual women are 23% less likely, bisexual women are 52% less likely, and mostly gay/gay women are 40% less likely to graduate from college once enrolled.

Interestingly, research showed that heterosexual respondents tend to have more highly educated parents compared to bisexual respondents. The difference between heterosexual and gay/lesbian respondents was insignificant. Despite this, there was no significant difference in parents' expectations of attending college.

The opposite is true for men. Men who identified as gay/mostly gay men are 184% more likely to have completed a high school degree, and mostly heterosexual men are 122% more likely, compared to completely heterosexual men.

So whats the takeaway? Educational interventions should target sexual minority women and bisexual people.

Other statistics to know:

  1. LGBT youth experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. Studies indicate that between 11 percent and 45 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBT (Durso & Gates, 2012; Gattis, 2009; Wells, 2009) We should mention here there is a visible, known and well publicized correlation between poverty, homelessness and inaccessibility to education and educational resources. This is why resources in education MUST not only be LGBTQ+ friendly but LGBTQ+ managed and have LGBTQ+ leadership.

  2. LGBT homeless youth are more likely than their homeless heterosexual counterparts to have poorer mental and physical health outcomes, including major depressive disorders, PTSD and substance abuse (Keuroghlian, Shtasel, & Bassuk, 2014). Becoming homeless is also related to future depressive and anxiety symptoms, disorderly conduct and substance use disorders, which highlights the long-term impact of unstable housing on LGBT homeless youth (Rosario, Scrimshaw, & Hunter, 2012). Needless to say, students with poorer mental health cannot reach their maximum academic potential. Academic help from LGBTQ+ students to youth can help bridge that divide.


Mollborn, Stefanie, and Bethany Everett. “Understanding the Educational Attainment of Sexual Minority Women and Men.” Research in social stratification and mobility vol. 41 (2015): 40-55. doi:10.1016/j.rssm.2015.04.004

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