Study links LGBT-accepting campuses with lower risk of sexual assault

A new study links pro-LGBT campuses to a lower risk of sexual assault.

The study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence earlier in March finds that students who perceive their campus to be more LGBT-welcoming were significantly less likely to be sexual assault victims.

Lead author Robert Coulter told Reuters: “I believe this study provides proof of concept for how environment may influence sexual assault violence.”

Coulter, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, writes in the journal that sexual assault affects between 2 and 15 percent of undergrad students in the US.

He, and other authors, note that some groups are more likely to be at risk of sexual assault than others, such as transgender people in general.

Out of students who said they were LGBT+, 5.2 percent said they had been sexually assaulted.

And the percentage of those saying they had experienced sexual assault on campus was 27 points lower for those who reported LGBT+ people were welcome on campus, compared to those who said theirs was less inclusive.

Those who had not witnessed harassment of LGBT+ students on campus reported being 32 percent less likely to have been sexually assaulted.

Authors note that this figure could be down to change.

But they suggest various reasons why an LGBT+ accepting campus could be tied to less likelihood of sexual assault.

One reason is that people, including LGBT+ people, may feel empowered to stop sexual assaults as they take place.

“There are great disparities of sexual assault victimisation for LGBT people and we need to find ways to reduce their greater risk,” Coulter told Reuters.

The researchers note that it could be helpful for programs to specifically help LGBT+ victims of sexual assault, and to reduce these numbers.