UC Lavender

You See (UC) Lavender: Assessing University Readiness to Address Campus-Based Sexual Violence and Harassment Among Sexual and Gender Minority Students

In a few sentences / a short paragraph, provide the background of the project. This should include information about the health problem at the core of this project. Why this health problem is important (i.e., what is the prevalence/incidence of this problem, what are related health outcomes), what populations are most impacted, why it is essential that efforts be placed on conducting research focused on this health problem, etc.

Sexual and gender minority students (SGMS) include those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, transgender, gender diverse, or nonbinary [1]. Although they make up only approximately 6-10% of college students in the United States (US), SGMS disproportionately experience sexual violence, sexual harassment (SVSH), and intimate partner violence (IPV) compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers [2-6]. Overwhelmingly, SGMS face unique risk factors, including homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, minimal peer and family support, and other social determinants that make them vulnerable to experiencing IPV, SVSH, and revictimization [2,3; 6-9]. Moreover, SGMS who experience SVSH are less likely than heterosexual and cisgender survivors to access campus-based and local resources, including reporting and mental health care services [4; 9]. Survivors of SVSH who do not access survivor-centered and trauma-informed resources are at increased risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, substance use disorders, chronic disease, mental illness, and injury, and may concurrently endure social isolation, stigma, and shame [10]. Survivors who do access campus-based resources, however, may also be at increased risk of experiencing retraumatization, and ultimately revictimization, due to the high prevalence of counselors and personnel who are not culturally competent about the ways in which gender, sexuality, race, and other social identities intersect to produce disparate experiences with SVSH and IPV (9).

Findings indicate that strong community engagement and outreach programs that cultivate a supportive environment for SVSH survivors can significantly reduce adverse mental health and increase access to, and engagement with, institutional and social support systems [11]. Furthermore, students who perceive higher campus readiness to address SVSH and IPV experience a more positive campus climate and a greater sense of community, overall [4]. SGMS who interact with affirming and inclusive providers and counselors additionally report feeling acknowledged, safer, and more welcomed, and students that feel represented and affirmed by the campus community, generally, are more likely to utilize service [12].

Aim 1: Evaluate campus readiness to address SVSH and IPV among SGMS by performing a resource-audit to assess UCLA campus and community resources, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Campus Assault Resources & Education (CARE), Title IX, University of California Police Department (UCPD), etc. as they represent, and are catered to, SGMS

Aim 2: Assess SGMS’ knowledge of campus-based resources and the inclusivity of these resources, and how these perceptions of campus-based survivor services impact long-term utilization and care between lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and those who identity as genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender

Aim 3: Explore student help-seeking behaviors, coping strategies, and mental health outcomes as they intersect with SVSH in the LGBTQ+ community. Understand how race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, and other social determinants intersect with sexual orientation and gender identity to produce varying levels of barriers to care on UCLA’s campus

Aim 4: Generate recommendations for programs and policies to increase resources for SGMS on UCLA’s campus, including health, safety, and training protocols on SVSH prevention and survivor resources.

Our research methods are informed by intersectional, community-led frameworks and guided by trauma-informed and survivor-centered principles. First, we will conduct a research study utilizing an iterative, mixed-methods approach, starting with a resource audit (Aim 1) to assess campus resources and services as they pertain to SGMS. Then, we will conduct qualitative research methods—including in-depth interviews (IDIs) with community and campus-based stakeholders who can provide population and service expertise to inform our research questions. Third, we will lead focus group discussions (FGD) with undergraduate and graduate students to investigate student perceptions of campus resources and services, and utilize IDIs with student survivors to assess how SGMS survivor’s may or may not interact with reporting and/or mental health resources (Aims 2 and 3). Finally, we will conduct an online quantitative survey to assess how SGMS live and thrive at UCLA (including how they interact with campus-based systems and institutions) (Aims 2 and 3). Data collection will be informed by the need for disaggregated data that captures differences by sexual orientation and gender identity in order to provide recommendations based on the unique and potentially differing needs and experiences of all LGBTQ+ students, and findings will inform recommendations to the UC (AIM 4). We aim to recruit up to 186 students and 10 stakeholders (up to 2 FGDs with 8 students each, 20 student IDIs, 5 campus-based stakeholders IDIs, 5 community-based stakeholders IDIs, and 100-150 student survey respondents).

There is a need to further investigate the unique experiences of SGMS, with a particular focus on transgender, genderqueer, and non-conforming students of color, and to develop culturally competent and gender-affirming care for survivors. As such, findings will support a peer-reviewed publication and will be presented at UC and public health conferences. Moreover, findings will be distributed to UC stakeholders to inform recommendations to the University of California to foster a more inclusive and gender-affirming campus climate, which is not only central to the educational success of SGMS, but also to their physical safety, mental health, and sense of community. This study will inform future research across the UC system.

October 2021 – December 2021 (1-3 months): Study preparation and IRB approval; prepare study documents, such as the research protocol for interviews; consent forms, interview guides, IRB submission, and study flyers for recruitment

January 2022- March 2022 (4-6 months): Resource audit and recruitment

April 2022-June 2022 (7-9 months): Interview and survey data collection; scheduling and conducting in-depth interviews with participants and disseminating survey

July 2022-October 2022 (10-12 months): Data analysis: transcribe and analyze interviews using Dedoose; develop communication materials to raise awareness, generate recommendations to the University of California, and prepare submissions for publication into different academic journals. Results will be used to inform future funding applications for LGBTQ+ violence prevention on college campuses

  1. Currently not recruiting participants but eligibility requirements will include:
  2. Aged 18 years and over Identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, androgynous, and/or asexual
  3. Attending (or graduated in the past 12 months from) UCLA
  4. Having experienced sexual violence and/or sexual harassment while enrolled as a student [student in-depth interviews only]
  1. Shirelle Mizrahi, Student Research Lead, Graduate Student Researcher, shmizrah@g.ucla.edu
  2. Sean Sugai, Student Research Lead, Undergraduate Student Researcher, seansugai23@g.ucla.edu
  3. Jennifer Wagman, MHS, PhD, Principal Investigator, jennwagman@ucla.edu

Sean Sugai
Email: seansugai23@g.ucla.edu

Shirelle Mizrahi
Email: shmizrah@g.ucla.edu

This is an emerging project that has recently been submitted for funding, so please check back later for updates on research progress. 


1. Terminology | Adolescent and School Health | CDC. Published August 14, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/terminology/sexual-and-gender-identity-terms.htm

2. Bhochhibhoya, S., Maness, S. B., Cheney, M., & Larson, D. (2021). Risk Factors for Sexual
Violence Among College Students in Dating Relationships: An Ecological Approach. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(15–16), 7722–7746. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519835875 

3. Coulter, R. W. S., Mair, C., Miller, E., Blosnich, J. R., Matthews, D. D., & McCauley, H. L.
(2017). Prevalence of Past-Year Sexual Assault Victimization Among Undergraduate Students: Exploring Differences by and Intersections of Gender Identity, Sexual Identity, and Race/Ethnicity. Prevention Science: The Official Journal of the Society for Prevention Research, 18(6), 726–736. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-017-0762-8 

4. Edwards, K. M., Littleton, H. L., Sylaska, K. M., Crossman, A. L., & Craig, M. (2016).
College Campus Community Readiness to Address Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBTQ+ Young Adults: A Conceptual and Empirical Examination. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58(1–2), 16–26. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12068 

5. Fedina, L., Holmes, J. L., & Backes, B. L. (2018). Campus Sexual Assault: A Systematic
Review of Prevalence Research From 2000 to 2015. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 76–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838016631129 

6. Whitfield, D. L., Coulter, R. W. S., Langenderfer-Magruder, L., & Jacobson, D. (2021).
Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Students: The Intersection of Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(11–12), NP6040–NP6064. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518812071 

7. DeKeseredy, W., Hall-Sanchez, A., Nolan, J., & Schwartz, M. (2017). A campus LGBTQ
community’s sexual violence and stalking experiences: The contribution of pro-abuse peer support. Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 1(2), 169–185. https://doi.org/10.1332/239868017X15099845241783 

8. Griner, S. B., Vamos, C. A., Thompson, E. L., Logan, R., Vázquez-Otero, C., & Daley, E. M.
(2020). The Intersection of Gender Identity and Violence: Victimization Experienced by Transgender College Students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 35(23–24), 5704–5725. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517723743 

9. Potter, S. J., Fountain, K., & Stapleton, J. G. (2012). Addressing sexual and relationship
violence in the LGBT community using a bystander framework. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20(4), 201–208. https://doi.org/10.3109/10673229.2012.712838 

10. Intimate Partner Violence in Transgender Populations: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence and Correlates | AJPH | Vol. 110 Issue 9. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2021, 

from https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2020.305774 

11. Ogbe, E., Harmon, S., Van den Bergh, R., & Degomme, O. (2020). A systematic review of intimate 

partner violence interventions focused on improving social support and/ mental health outcomes 

of survivors. PLoS ONE, 15(6), e0235177. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235177 

12. Quinn, G. P., Sutton, S. K., Winfield, B., Breen, S., Canales, J., Shetty, G., Sehovic, I., Green, B. L., & 

Schabath, M. B. (2015). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) 

Perceptions and Health Care Experiences. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 27(2), 246–261. https://doi.org/10.1080/10538720.2015.1022273