Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Higher Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Laila McCloud

Academic Year



Current research has identified that gender and sexually diverse college students experience decreased sense of belonging and increased mental health conditions in the higher education landscape and beyond. Research acknowledges cisheteronormativity, the overarching oppressive, social structure as the catalyst for this pervasive problem. This project explores how higher education institutions, including Grand Valley State University, can address LGBTQIA2S+ mental health needs by improving campus climate through campus-wide education acknowledging the multitude of identities that exist. Through developing identity-centered programming, outreach, and resources, gender and sexually diverse students can experience enhanced sense of belonging. An effective social identity empowerment program must center anti-deficit, transformational learning. Furthermore, participants should engage in interpersonal, intrapersonal, and action-oriented reflection that assists all students in developing an understanding of difference. The Social & Personal Identity Empowerment Workshop intends to promote inclusive practices, encourage identity exploration, and assist attendees in recognizing their collective responsibility to improve social conditions. The goal of the workshop is to create a community of care that minimizes stressors experienced by LGBTQIA2S+ students and improves their holistic well-being.