Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Angela Clark-Taylor, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Philip Mirci, Ph.D.

Gregory W. Hamilton, Ed.D.


high school, experience, LGBTQ, coming out, identity


Educational Leadership


This qualitative study used narrative inquiry to consider the stories of LGBTQ college students who looked back on their decisions to disclose in high school. A social constructivist framework and Bronfenbrenner's Ecological theory shaped the lens by which this study viewed the decision to come out. The purpose of this study was to understand the factors that inform the decision to disclose in high school, and in which environments students felt safe, or not safe, coming out and why.

To collect data, participants took part in a three-interview process to help recall their coming out stories. Narratives were then crafted based on the participants' recollections as they emerged throughout the interviews. Participants member-checked the narratives. Narratives and interviews were then hand-coded for common experiences and themes.

Findings emerged regarding the balance of support systems participants experienced that affected their decision to disclose, as well as the salient identities that existed regardless of the environment in which participants chose to disclose. These included political and religious identities. These findings could serve to help inform educators who work to create safer environments for LGBTQ youth.


© 2018 Rachael Ann Rehage

All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 9780438818866