The Project MALES Research Institute has released a new research brief examining the ways in which gay Latinx males regulate their emotions while navigating college life. The brief is authored by Charles Lu, director of the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services at the University of California, San Diego; Sarah L. Rodriguez, associate professor of higher education and learning technologies at Texas A&M University, Commerce; and Beth Bukoski, associate professor of practice and co-program coordinator at The University of Texas at Austin.
The qualitative study used the process-oriented model of emotional regulation, designed by educational psychology researcher J. Gross, to further investigate how male gay Latinx students cope with heterosexist attitudes and comments in college settings. As part of the study, the researchers examined narratives provided by seven students who used various methods for regulating their emotions in different settings.
According to the findings, the respondents exhibited the following behaviors:
· Finding gay-affirming communities: inclusive spaces and centers on campus providing supportive faculty, students and staff
· Avoiding and modifying gay-adverse spaces: events that perpetuate toxic masculinity and/or gender binary norms such as football games, basketball games, etc.
· Changing the subject: remaining closeted and shifting the focus of discussion in exclusive settings such as home, church, etc.
· Positive reframing: using positive self-talk to diffuse emotion attached to stress
The key finding, the researchers note, is that students sought spaces on campus where they could develop relationships with people who affirmed and valued their gay identities.
“The importance of gay-affirming spaces was universal; all seven participants agreed that these spaces increased their sense of belonging, which helped them become more comfortable in their academic aspirations,” the researchers stated in the research brief.
The study adds to a growing body of knowledge on the higher education experience for LGBTQ Latinx men.
“This theoretical framework allowed us to explore how participants made sense of their emotions in transitioning from often unsupportive family environments to a campus environment that had affirming pockets rather than a blanket,” the researchers added.
With this research brief, Project MALES seeks to amplify scholarship focused on men of color in education across the country. Read the full report.
More about Project MALES: Housed within UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) is a research and mentoring initiative committed to advancing the educational outcomes of male students of color at the local, state and national level.