Book Reviews

Book by: Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Kristen A. Renn, and G. Blue Brazelton (Eds.)
Review By: Megan Coburn
Graduate Assistant: College of Community and Public Services Undergraduate Advising Center
Grand Valley State University

 

Gender and Sexual Diversity in U.S. Higher Education: Contexts and Opportunities for LGBTQ College Students is designed to give the reader ideas and techniques to make departments, offices, and the overall campus climate a more inclusive space for LGBTQ students. Not only does this book offer specific long-term and short-term suggestions for universities to implement, it also offers a concise overview of terms related to the LGBTQ community. Faculty, staff, and administrators at higher education institutions across the country would be among appropriate readers who would benefit from this book.

This book is comprised of five chapters from various authors within the field offering diverse and valuable suggestions that can be applicable to post secondary colleges or universities. As language is constantly evolving, terms describing sexuality and gender transform as well (p. 17). The first chapter identifies the difference between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, which gives the reader context as they move throughout the rest of the book. Advisors who serve LGBTQ students on their campuses would find many chapters in this book useful. Specifically, in chapter two, the authors provide a framework for educators working with students who have MIoSG (Minoritized Identities of Sexuality and Gender). This framework takes into account self, home place context, campus context, national, regional, and local contexts. The framework additionally considers historical, repeated, and recent contexts. This broad overview will allow faculty and staff to connect to students with not only their LGBTQ identities, but also their intersecting identities (p. 28).

In order to change campus contexts, the authors in chapter four offer suggestions for moving forward (p. 59). First, by continuously evolving the language and terminology when referring to LGBTQ students, universities have the power to improve campus contexts for LGBTQ students. Secondly, engaging with student leaders, campus activists, and knowing current “best practices” can allow faculty and staff to better serve LGBTQ students (p. 59). One common trend that several of the chapters touched on was that trans*, non-binary, and queer students are often neglected through efforts to support LGBTQ students on campuses. Another common trend that the book offered included the idea of intersectional identities and recognizing that thought students may identify as LGBTQ; they may also have other intersecting identities influencing their daily life. For professionals interested in research, the last chapter of the book, focusing on assessment, recommends that outcome based assessment be the future of queer-spectrum and trans-spectrum student assessments (p. 79). Although chapter 5 offers insight to how to conduct research in a more efficient manner for this student population, it is the only portion of the book that discusses research, which could be seen as a weakness for some professionals in the field.

Though sociocultural influences would suggest that we are moving into a post-LGBTQ era, data reveals quite the opposite (p. 42). Our culture remains largely white and cisgender, which reveals the importance of support services for LGBTQ students. By reading this book, faculty, staff, and administrators working with LGBTQ students can gain insight from experts in the field. Studying this book can be the first step to making campuses more inclusive for LGBTQ student populations.


Gender and Sexual Diversity in U.S. Higher Education: Contexts and Opportunities for LGBTQ College Students (2015). Book by Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Kristen A. Renn, and G. Blue Brazelton (Eds.). Review by Megan Coburn. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 104 pp., $29.00 (Paperback). ISBN  978-1-1192-2020-6.

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