An Exploratory Analysis of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Undergraduate Music and Art Students' Well-Being

 

Nicholas Roseth, Indiana University Bloomington

neroseth@indiana.edu

 

LGBTQ-identifying people are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to encounter violence, mental health, depression, and various other stressors (e.g., Cochran & Mays, 2000, 2005; Cochran, Sullivan, & Mays, 2003; Diamant & Wold, 2003; Gilman et al., 2001; Kann 2016; Kosciw, 2014; Kosciw, 2016; Meyer, 2003; Oswalt & Wyatt, 2011; Przedworski, 2015) that negatively impact their overall psychological well-being. Much of the extant literature and conversations in music education regarding LGBTQ issues describe music teacher preparation programs (e.g., Garret, 2011; Spano, 2011; Sweet & Paparo, 2011), the lives of in-service educators (e.g., Bergonzi, 2009; Furman, 2010; Haywood, 2011; Natale-Abramo, 2011; Palkki, 2015; Taylor, 2011), and the experiences of lesbian and gay music undergraduates (e.g. Carter, 2013; Fitzpatrick & Hansen, 2010; Paparo & Sweet, 2014). Broadly, investigations of well-being among LGBTQ music education students is lacking.

 

While it would seem none of the music education research exploring LGBTQ students has specifically explored well-being, findings in the extant research have implications for well-being. For example, Paparo and Sweet (2014) examined the experiences of two pre-service teachers, one gay and one lesbian, as they completed their student teaching. The pre-service teachers expressed anxiety about being “out” during student teaching, described challenges within their respective school environments, and one of the student teachers found his cooperating teacher both “offensive and off-putting” (p. 34). These findings may suggest that some LGBTQ music education students experience various anxieties and tensions while navigating their identities during their undergraduate careers.

 

The primary purpose of this study was to explore the well-being of undergraduate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) music performance, music education, and art education students using Martin Seligman’s (2011) Model of Well-Being as a framework. Data for this study were drawn from the 2013-2015 administrations of the College Student Report (CSR) by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Responses of all students who identified as "music" majors, "music or art education" majors, or as LGBQ (n = 30,014) were extracted from the data set for analysis. CSR items regarding the students’ collegiate experiences that corresponded with the dimensions of Martin Seligman’s Model of Well-Being (i.e., positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement) were used to create composite variables for further analysis.

 

The data indicated similar ratings between heterosexual and LGBQ music/art students in the areas of “positive emotion,” “engagement,” and “relationships.” In contrast, non-music/art LGBQ students rated items pertaining to “positive emotions” and “relationships” lower than heterosexual music/art students and lower than both heterosexual students and LGBQ music/art students in “engagement.” Regarding “meaning,” both LGBQ music/art students and non-music/art LGBQ students rated “meaning” items significantly higher than heterosexual music/art students. The data also indicated that heterosexual music/art students rated “achievement” items significantly higher than both LGBQ music/art and non-music/art LGBQ students. Broadly, the results suggest heterosexual and LGBQ undergraduate music/art students are “more well” than their LGBQ non-music/art peers.

 

When “Imagining Possible Futures” for music teacher education, this research suggests important implications for departments of music education that strive to recognize and support the needs of their LGBQ students to improve well-being, and where the voices of LGBQ students contribute important perspectives that support “meaning” for all students within their programs.

 

References

 

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