USFSP Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

Identifying the Unique Needs of Generation Z Students Who Identify as LGBTQ+Within Higher Education

Noah E. Miller

Abstract

Students from Generation Z have grown up in the age of technology and, therefore, may have needs that differ from students of previous generations.This is especially true for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+)of Generation Z who may have unique needs within the higher education environment. To explore the needs of Gen Z students who identify as LGBTQ+, interviews were conducted and recorded with 15 students, faculty, staff, and administrators at a medium-sized southeastern university. Interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Findings revealed that Gen Z students who identify as LGBTQ+may need institutional support in the form of increased safe spaces, inclusive application processes, visibility of faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+, and greater resources for the transgender community. Findings also suggest that LGBTQ+ -related education may need to be reformed in higher education by revising existing trainings and by requiring ally trainings for professors. In addition to the need for institutional support, Gen Z students who identify as LGBTQ+ also may need increased support from peers. There appear to be generational differences of needs related to the existence and overuse of technology among Gen Z students who identify as LGBTQ+. These findings have important implications for the development and implementation of best practices for creating a safe and inclusive space for all students to succeed in higher education environments.