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LGBTQ+ Students Struggle During Pandemic, Survey Finds

By Maryland Today Staff

LGBTQ+ students are reporting high rates of emotional and psychological distress, substance use and difficulty meeting basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey led by John P. Salerno, UMD doctoral student in behavioral and community health.

The national survey of 565 undergraduate and graduate LGBTQ+ students from May to August found that 65% met the clinical criteria for moderate or severe psychological distress. Forty-three percent had lost their job, while 25% reported that their grades had suffered.

Respondents also indicated a high level of social isolation: 40% said they felt “very isolated from others,” and more than a quarter indicated that they “received no social/emotional support.” Drinking and recreational cannabis use increased, the survey found.

LGBTQ+ students of color have felt an additional burden during this time, according to the survey. Thirty-eight percent said they felt misunderstood by white LGBTQ+ people more often than before the pandemic, and 37% said they’d experienced a rise in racist statements from white LGBTQ+ people.

The survey recommends some steps that universities can take to aid these students, such as providing financial support and social services, and educating instructors about resources for LGBTQ+ students.

Salerno will discuss the survey and how it’s being used to advocate for LGBTQ+ students at a University of Maryland Prevention Research Center webinar at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

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