Task force's first recommendation: new online resource clearinghouse for Temple's LGBTQ community
The Gender and Sexuality Climate Task Force — a group of administrators, faculty members and students convened last spring by President Ann Weaver Hart to study perceptions of Temple as a welcoming, safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) members of the Temple community — has released the results of a sweeping survey of Temple's gender and sexuality climate. The survey suggests that Temple's campus is a comfortable place for the vast majority of LGBTQ students and employees, although a smaller but significant percentage reported experiencing harassment, discriminatory incidents or other negative experiences.
"This survey reflects Temple's commitment to the creation of an inclusive and respectful environment for all employees and students," Hart said. "I am gratified that most members of Temple's growing and vibrant LGBTQ community feel comfortable here, but we will not be satisfied until we identify and address areas of concern."
Nearly 2,700 members of the Temple community responded anonymously to the survey, which was conducted by Rankin & Associates Consulting, Inc., a national leader in the assessment of institutional climate at college campuses. The results were presented in late April to the Campus Life and Diversity Committee of Temple's Board of Trustees, the survey's co-sponsors, before being posted at President Hart's website.
The survey revealed overall satisfaction with the campus climate at Temple, with 81 percent of all respondents and 74 percent of LGBTQ respondents indicating that they were "comfortable" or "very comfortable" with the climate on campus with respect to LGBTQ issues. Similarly high rates of satisfaction were reflected in responses related to the classroom environment, on-campus housing, curricular content, academic departments, schools and colleges and administrative units. A smaller percentage of respondents — 13 percent — reported experiencing discriminatory incidents, harassment or offensive behavior on campus due to their gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or other demographic factors, while 28 percent responded that they had witnessed or been made aware of such incidents.
LGBTQ respondents highlighted Temple resources that contributed to their comfort and sense of support on campus, including administrative units such as HEART, University Housing and Residential Life, Tuttleman Counseling Services and Student Activities as well as LGBTQ student organizations such as Queer Student Union and Purple Circle. LGBTQ respondents also indicated that they access other resources in the city, including the William Way Community Center, the LGBT Coalition Community Center, PFLAG and others.
William T. Bergman, vice president of operations at Temple and chair of the Gender and Sexuality Climate Task Force, said the task force noted the lack of a central clearinghouse of information on support resources for the university's LGBTQ community at Temple and in Philadelphia, as well as lack of awareness of university policies in place to protect their rights and interests.
"This survey is only the first step; the next steps will be reviewing the data and proposing actions to help ensure that Temple is a safe and comfortable place for all students," Bergman said. "The task force has already advised President Hart of the need for a centralized home on the web that brings together information and resources of interest to LGBTQ students and staff. We will be implementing that in the coming months."
Members of the task force stressed the importance of following through on issues raised by the survey.
"This survey indicates the vastness of Temple's LGBTQ population," said Associate Professor Scott Gratson, director of Temple's Interdisciplinary Communications program and "a proud member of the LGBTQ community."
"We need to be in for the long haul," Gratson said. "It can't be just a one-and-done."