Those are some of the findings of an intriguing new look at sexual minorities on American college campuses, which has just been published in the journal Economics of Education Review. According to the research, which is apparently the first of its kind, gay male undergraduates appear to be doing quite well: Their grade point average is about 2 percent higher than that of straight males at the same institution.
Gay men also spend 40 to 50 percent more time doing volunteer work or participating in student organizations, according to Carpenter’s findings. “It’s possible that these organizations they belong to could include fraternities,” he said. “But I doubt that, because gay men were less likely to say participating in parties was important to them.”
Another possible factor in their success rate: Gay male students were about 13 percent more likely than straight male students to report they had a faculty member or administrator they could talk to about a problem.
Most of my students, who I have known were gay, did much better in my classes. The two types of students who I find to be the most driven to succeed are gay male students and non-traditional older students who are returning to school or attending for the first time later in life. Both groups tend to be more outgoing in the classroom environment and are usually wonderful to have when a teacher is trying to lead a discussion.
So how to explain why gay guys are doing better in school?
• The attitude factor. “The thing that really comes out (in the data) is that gay men see academic work as more important than heterosexual men,” says study author Christopher Carpenter, noting gays “were 1.41 times more likely to say their academic work was important.”
• The extracurricular factor. “Gay men also spend 40 to 50 percent more time doing volunteer work or participating in student organizations,” notes Miller-McCune.com. A belief in social responsibility likely coincides with a belief in personal responsibility.
And, of course:
• The sex factor. On campuses with more male professors, there are more opportunities for gay students to engage in Grade-A-for-a-BJ!
As for why bisexual girls are doing the worst of any sexual orientation? We’re going to rely on anecdotal, and not scientific data, and conclude it’s because they’re having twice as much sex. Lucky lasses.
My main source of information for this post is from the online magazine Miller-McCune.com harnesses current academic research with real-time reporting to address pressing social concerns. Every day our contributors — researchers, policymakers and journalists — suggest solutions for today’s pressing issues in areas such as education, politics, the environment, economics, urban affairs and health.