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Dr. Adrienne Dessel, Dr. Michael Woodford, and Kevin Goodman

LGBT Discrimination on Campus and Heterosexual Bystanders: Understanding the Intention to Intervene

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“When we think about what we know about climate for LGBT students that we would describe it as being unsafe, hostile, certainly issues of discrimination have been well-documented. And that discrimination ranges from subtle forms… to more blatant forms of discrimination. And we know that that then puts LGBT students at increased risk for negative outcomes such as mental health concerns, depression, suicidality, leaving universities, not doing as well academically as one could because of the additional stressors that one feels related to the experiences of the campus… We just know that there are still issues of discrimination and exclusion that happen… We have the discourse of allied programs and allies being so critical to interrupting discrimination ranging from sexual assault, and sexual violence, and sexism on campuses. And there has been more work around that particular area but really trying to understand what are some of the factors that may foster pro-social [interventions]? In other words, supportive interventions for students who are LGBTQ who are experiencing discrimination.”

Dr. Adrienne Dessel, Dr. Michael Woodford, & Kevin Goodman


In this episode, our guests discuss their research related to LGBT discrimination on college campuses and the context in which heterosexual bystanders are most likely to intervene. They highlight the specific skills and attitudes that can be fostered to promote supportive heterosexual bystander involvement and inclusive environments for LGBT individuals.

Adrienne Dessel, PhD, LMSW, is associate director of the Program on Intergroup Relations, University of Michigan, and lecturer with the School of Social Work, University of Michigan. She has 20 plus years of experience providing clinical and community-based services to diverse client populations and organizations. Adrienne teaches courses on intergroup dialogue (IGD), intergroup relations, and global conflict and coexistence. Her research focuses on attitudes and prejudice reduction, and IGD processes and outcomes, most recently on topics of religion, Arab/Jewish conflict, and sexual/relational orientation. Her recent book (with Dr. Rebecca Bolen) is Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation in Social Work: Privilege, Oppression, and the Pursuit of Human Rights, CSWE Press.​

Michael Woodford, PhD, MSW, is an associate professor with the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. His research addresses the social exclusion and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) people. Much of his current work examines the relationship between campus climate, socio-ecological risk and protective factors, and the health and academic wellbeing of LGBTQ university students. Part of this work examines the effects of contemporary heterosexism, including subtle microaggressions (e.g., overhearing the phrase, “that’s so gay”) and overt discrimination (e.g., physical assaults) on students’ wellbeing, and identifies factors that can foster students’ resilience to these minority stressors. Another part of this research involves exploring the influence of intersecting identities on these relationships. Dr. Woodford also studies heterosexist attitudes, support for LGBTQ civil rights, LGBTQ allyhood, LGBTQ youth empowerment, and faculty’s support for LGBTQ content in social work programs.

Kevin D. Goodman is a PhD candidate in the departments of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, with emphases in social/personality, organizational, and community psychology. Kevin received an M.S. in Psychology at the University of Michigan in 2015 and a B.A. in Psychology at California State University, Long Beach in 2010, with a minor in speech communications and a certificate in peace and social justice studies. His research focuses on the experiences and methodological issues surrounding intersections of gender, sexuality, and racial identity, especially in educational contexts. Kevin’s research interests also include intergroup relations, discrimination and sexual harassment, diversity in higher education, empowerment, health and resilience, critical consciousness, activism, and social change.

Interviewer: Diane Elze, PhD

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