New research has indicated that gay men achieve more at college than their straight male counterparts. However, the work also showed that bisexual women do worse during higher education than straight women.
The US study, published in the Economics of Education Review, revealed that gay men feel that academic work is more important than straight men do, a factor which may be influencing their overall higher performance; a two per cent higher grade point average then straight males.
“It’s plausible that if gay men perceive their academic work as more important, then they’re trying harder,” said research author Christopher Carpenter, an economics professor at the University of California, when speaking to Miller McCune Magazine.
Carpenter also found that gay men attach real importance to their participation in arts-based cultural activities. This increased interest in the arts was found across the board, among gay, lesbian and bisexual students. In addition, engagement in volunteer work and student groups were found to be an important part of college life for gay men, who spend 40 to 50 per cent more time participating in them than their straight peers.
Carpenter added: “The (high levels of) connectedness and activism were the same for lesbians and gay men.”
Another finding was that gay male college students are far more likely to have been mentored than straight male students, suggesting stronger links with their departments, which may in turn help achieve the higher grades reported.
Gay men were also 13 per cent more likely to have a member of staff with whom they could discuss a problem. This is thought to be a result of the presence of LGBT resource centres on university campuses, where gay youths can receive advice on personal and academic issues.
Carpenter states: “If we found the positive effects for gay men were driven by access to gay/lesbian/bisexual resource centres that might mean you should invest more in those centres.”
While findings about gay men were positive, results for bisexual women in particular were a different story. Carpenter commented: “Behavioral bisexuals (who are overwhelmingly female) do a lot worse. They spend significantly less time studying. They’re much less satisfied with their academic work. They think their academic work is less important than do other women. Bisexual women are not having as good a college experience.”
However, he added that lesbians “appear to do no worse, no better academically” than their straight female counterparts.
Carpenter used the report Sexual Orientation and Outcomes in College from Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, in which over 40,000 students from 120 colleges and universities were asked a wide range of questions.
The introduction to the official report states that it “identif[ied] sexual minorities by using responses to questions about the sex of the respondent’s lifetime sex partners”.