Sexual Assault in LGBTQ Communities

The results of last spring’s Sexual Assault and Campus Climate Survey, released yesterday to students at the Claremont Colleges, are an incredibly valuable resource to any student at the Claremont Colleges attempting to wrap their head around the issues of sexual violence as it impacts our campuses. This week's article by Sam McLaughlin article highlights many interesting facts and discrepancies relating to the consortium.

One takeaway worth noting from the report is the particular implications that the data have for queer and trans people. Too often, sexual assault is framed in a heterosexual cis-male-on-cis-female context, but other gender identities and sexual orientations may see higher rates of sexual violence than their cisgender and straight counterparts. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that even when discussing male-on-female sexual violence, women who identify as lesbian or bisexual see much higher rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence than do their straight counterparts.

The survey conducted at the Claremont Colleges corroborates the findings of another recent survey conducted by the Association of American Universities, which found that the LGBTQ students surveyed at 27 universities across the country had experienced higher rates of sexual assault than their straight, cisgender peers. For as much as the data are empirically limited, the study underscores a particularly salient point: At the Claremont Colleges and society at large, queer and trans people face particular threats to their bodily safety and security.

As such, students and activists must work doubly hard to bring the stories of queer and trans people, and others that have been marginalized, to the center of conversations of sexual assault at universities. The double stigma of queerness and sexual assault means that this is difficult work—talking about sexual assault is hard enough without having to come out at the same time—but it is necessary nonetheless.

Daily threats to the health and safety of queer and trans people, especially trans people of color, still pervade our society. Gay marriage may be legal, but there's still a lot of work to do.