This post is part of a series – Supporting Students: A Guide for Faculty & Allies

Established in 2021, the LGBTQ+ Communication Sciences & Disorders Student Association (LGBTQ+ CSDSA) is a national student group created by and for LGBTQ+ students studying speech-language pathology, audiology, and speech and hearing sciences. We seek to connect and support students, advocate for their needs in clinical and educational matters, and educate allies to support LGBTQ+ students and clients.

This educational resource is created by student leaders for allies in the field of CSD interested in creating safe and affirming environments for LGBTQ+ students, colleagues, and clients.

There is little data available on the percentage of LGBTQ+ students in CSD; however, their experiences have been documented in research and shared experiences. A 2020 study of minority students in CSD indicated that many LGBTQ+ students faced antagonism in social and classroom situations, fear of disclosing their identity, microaggressions, and feelings of isolation. LGBTQ+ students also reported curriculum gaps in the area of serving LGBTQ+ clients, which contributed to decreased feelings of inclusion in their academic program. Conversely, students reported that effort and support from faculty increased feelings of inclusion (Roberts, 2020)

Intersectionality is a term used to describe the cumulative and “intersecting” effects of various identities (race, class, gender, ability, etc.) on individuals’ experiences of privilege and discrimination (Crenshaw, 1989). Other identities impact LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences; therefore, it is vital to acknowledge other minoritized identities when working towards a more inclusive academic or clinical space.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) 2021 CSD Education Survey reported that 32.5% of undergraduates CSD students, 16.0% of AuD students, and 25.2% of SLP students were of a minoritized racial or ethnic group (The Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and ASHA, 2021). These students may see their racial and ethnic identities underrepresented in the CSD field, as only 8.7% of ASHA members in 2021 identify as individuals from underrepresented racial groups (ASHA, 2021). Among undergraduate, AuD, and SLP programs, between 5.1 and 6.8% of enrolled students had a documented disability (The Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and ASHA, 2021). There is a lack of data on ability and disability among CSD professionals, which is notable considering the field’s mission of serving and advocating for individuals with communication disabilities.

Beyond the student climate, LGBTQ+ inclusivity is important in all areas of CSD clinical practice, and consequently should be included in CSD curriculum. The LGBTQ+ community faces significant healthcare disparities, including discriminatory experiences and denial of necessary care due to identity (Lambda Legal, 2010). Fear of stigma and discrimination may hinder LGBTQ+ individuals from accessing medical care (Kcomt et al., 2020; Mizock & Mueser, 2014; Medina & Mahowald, 2022). Speech-language pathologists and audiologists may serve LGBTQ+ clients in any clinical setting across the lifespan. Given these disparities, it is vital for CSD students to learn to provide effective, responsive care to LGBTQ+ clients. Additionally, per ASHA code of ethics, clinicians must not discriminate based on gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation (ASHA, 2016). Unfortunately, research shows that many SLPs do not feel adequately prepared to work with LGBTQ+ clients (Hancock & Haskin, 2015; Matthews et al., 2020)

Minority students in CSD report that feelings of inclusion increased with intentional faculty and student efforts to counter the prevailing design of CSD programs that “operate from a privileged perspective that is white, middle-class, female, cisgender and heterosexual, and neurotypical and able-bodied (Roberts, 2020). This resource seeks to provide ideas and guidance for supporting and including LGBTQ+ students in CSD departments.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2016). Code of Ethics. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). 2021 Member & affiliate profile. Annual demographic and employment data.

The Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2021). The Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Education Survey National Aggregate Data Report:2020–2021 Academic Year. CSD Education Survey.

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. u. Chi. Legal f., 139.

Hancock, A., & Haskin, G. (2015). Speech-language pathologists’ knowledge and attitudes regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 24(2), 206-221.

Kcomt, L., Gorey, K. M., Barrett, B. J., & McCabe, S. E. (2020). Healthcare avoidance due to anticipated discrimination among transgender people: A call to create trans-affirmative environments. SSM – Population Health, 11, 100608.

​​Lambda Legal. (2010). When Health Care Isn’t Caring: Lambda Legal’s Survey on Discrimination Against LGBT People and People Living with HIV. Lambda Legal. 

Matthews, J. J., Olszewski, A., & Petereit, J. (2020). Knowledge, Training, and Attitudes of Students and Speech-Language Pathologists About Providing Communication Services to Individuals Who Are Transgender. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 29(2), 597-610.

Medina, C. A., & Mahowald, L. (2023, January 12). The state of the LGBTQ community in 2020. Center for American Progress. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from 

Mizock, L., & Mueser, K. T. (2014). Employment, mental health, internalized stigma, and coping with transphobia among transgender individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(2), 146–158. 

Roberts, T. M. (2020). Inclusion for Speech-Language Pathology Minority Graduate Students (Doctoral dissertation, Portland State University).

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