University of Kentucky Explains Purpose of Study Asking Whether Being Gay is a Mental Illness

Yesterday we reported that the University of Kentucky administered a survey asking students whether they agree or disagree with statements about LGBTQ people—including whether being gay is a mental illness.

UK has issued a statement explaining the survey’s purpose:

The questionnaire is part of a quality improvement project at UHS (Note: That’s University Health Service) that includes learning more about LGBTQ college students’ utilization of university health centers. The project’s goal is to improve health services and gauge student opinions and impressions on the state of patient care for LGBTQ students at UK’s University Health Service.

The statement also addressed criticism of the wording of certain survey items(the statements about homosexuality being a perversion and a mental illness had caused concern):

These questions which ask about feelings about sexual identity or orientation are from a validated scale used in peer reviewed journals and used in previous surveys on other campuses. These questions are used to assess campus climate and diversity of student beliefs and to compare change in beliefs and attitudes about the LGBTQ population among different campuses and over different time periods.

Student responses were kept confidential and respondents were told they could skip any questions they found upsetting. The survey in its entirety is now available online.

Laura Ellis

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and produces other news & feature programming.

@funambulator

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