Microaggressions Experienced by LGBTQ Academics in Canada: 'Just Not Fitting In… It Does Take a Toll'

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Higher Education, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Qualitative Research, University Faculty


Given contemporary attention to diversity and inclusion on Canadian university campuses, and given human rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, it is tempting to believe that marginalization is a thing of the past for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) academics. Our qualitative study (n = 8), focusing on everyday experiences rather than overt discrimination, documents numerous microaggressions, the often-unintended interactions that convey messages of marginality. With colleagues, students and administrators, participants reported isolation, tokenism, invisibility, hyper-visibility, dismissal, exoticization, and lack of institutional support. Maintaining constant vigilance and caution was taxing. The everyday microaggressions that lead to isolation and a sense of dis-ease in pervasively cisgender-normative and heteronormative institutions are very difficult to challenge, as they are not the kinds of experiences anti-discrimination policies and procedures are designed to address.