Understanding Nonbinary College Students’ Experiences on College Campuses: An Exploratory Study of Mental Health, Campus Involvement, Victimization, and Safety

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Journal of Diversity in Higher Education




Limited research has explored the experiences of nonbinary college students. Using a national sample of college students from the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA), we compared experiences of college students in terms of their campus safety, mental health, and involvement in extracurricular activities. Results reveal complexities of nonbinary students’ experiences. Nonbinary students reported feeling less safe on and around campus and were more likely to be verbally threatened, stalked, and sexually assaulted than their peers. In terms of mental health indicators, nonbinary students reported significantly worse outcomes than their peers. Nonbinary students were also significantly less likely to be involved in extracurricular activities. Among nonbinary students, Black nonbinary students reported less safety, higher stress, and greater suicidality than White nonbinary students, and multiracial nonbinary students were more likely to be stalked than their White nonbinary peers. In terms of campus involvement, multiracial nonbinary students were more likely to volunteer than White nonbinary students. On the whole, this study suggests that nonbinary college students’ experiences differ from their peers’ in terms of greater reports of victimization, poorer mental health, and less involvement on campus, with important racial differences. Those who work with college students should ensure that their services support and affirm nonbinary identities and should work to push back on superficial changes that do not address the racist, cis-heteropatriarchal conditions that give rise to such outcomes


Campus involvement, Campus safety, Mental health, Nonbinary, Victimization


Child and Adolescent Development