- Rethinking LGBTQIA Students and Collegiate Contexts: Identity, Policies, and Campus Climate ed. by Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, Devika Dibya Choudhuri, and Jason L. Taylor
As noted by leading scholar Kristen Renn in the Foreword of this edited volume: "Paradoxically, college is both better than ever and as bad as, in some cases worse, than it has ever been for LGBTQIA college students" (p. vii). Both historical and contemporary accounts back up this assertion (Graves, 2018; Lange, Duran, & Jackson, 2019). Alongside recent scholarship that explores queer and trans college student contexts (e.g., Nicolazzo, 2017; Stewart, Renn, & Brazelton, 2015), Zamani-Gallaher, Choudhuri, and Taylor offer in this new text a collection of "work that blends both theory and practice" toward an expansive understanding of identities, contexts, policies, and possibilities (p. xi).
Consistent with the book's title, the editors invite readers to engage in "rethinking" through 12 chapters organized into three sections: identity, contexts, and policies and possibilities. The authors in part 1 of the book rethink identities, expanding readers' understandings of who belongs under the LGBTQIA umbrella of identities and the differential experiences of these subcommunities. Authors in part 2 encourage readers to rethink contexts by considering the environments LGBTQIA students find themselves in, including classrooms and other institutional settings. The final four chapters of part 3 help readers rethink policies and possibilities with considerations for individual research and praxis as well as policy building.
The editors intended for the volume to assist students in graduate preparation programs for higher education and student affairs, as well as researchers, practitioners, and policy analysts. While we agree that all of these groups may find utility in the volume, we believe it will be most helpful to those new to learning about LGBTQIA identities, communities, and the higher education supports that foster thriving for these students. This book as a whole would be a great addition to a course focused specifically on LGBTQIA students, with individual chapters being better suited for courses focused on diversity and equity, policy, and campus environments.
In addition to the editors' arrangement of the chapters, we identified another way to organize them into three sections; that is, readers might engage chapters based on their familiarity and reason(s) for reading the text. First, for those new to learning about and understanding LGBTQIA students, chapters [End Page 535] 1 (Choudhuri & Curley), 2 (Dockendorff), 4 (Bell), and 6 (Mollet & Lackman) prove useful in learning more about LGBTQIA communities overall. Choudhuri and Curley provide an overview of the multiplicity of LGBTQIA identities, while Dockendorff dives deep into the lives and experiences of intersex students and Bell explores LGBTQIA+ students with disabilities. Mollet and Lackman's chapter represents a great blending of author perspectives, student voices, and intersecting analysis of asexual students' lives. Those who wish to advocate for a community's visibility and complex nature may find a good model for doing so in this chapter.
The second section we propose is for readers wishing to engage and advocate for LGBTQIA students interpersonally and structurally on college campuses; they may find chapters 5 (Taylor), 7 (Mobley, McNally, & Moore), 8 (Whitehead & Gulley), 10 (Dockendorff, Nanney, & Nicolazzo), and 12 (Squire) to have the most direct implications. While Taylor suggests considerations for improving classroom spaces, the chapter would be further strengthened by attention to discipline-specific pressures and institutional type, such as those discussed by other authors (e.g., Garvey & Rankin, 2015; Linley & Nguyen, 2015). Some of the best considerations of college contexts are found in chapters 7 and 8. Mobley and colleagues provide an excellent blending of literature, biography, and institutional case studies, giving the reader a sense of LGBTQIA students' lives at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Similarly, Whitehead and Gulley's review of the literature on LGBTQIA students in community college settings blends limited existing studies and extrapolations from 4-year college settings to help readers consider the various dimensions of context for LGBTQIA community college students.