DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
Leadership and Higher Education
Doctor of Education (Ed.D)
Philip Mirci, Ph.D.
Alayne Sullivan, Ph.D.
Linda D. Jungwirth, Ed.D.
Dale Rosine, Ed.D.
social sciences, abuse, bullying, exclusion, gay students, heteronormativity, lesbians
For decades, adolescent gay male and lesbian students have been victims of abuse and exclusion in the K-12 education system that mandates their attendance. Many of these students have continually experienced abuse in the form of verbal and physical harassment, physical assault, and exclusion from social aspects of the school culture and the curriculum.
Even though a growing number of gay and lesbian youth have been openly proclaiming their sexuality, and the number of bullying incidents associated with real or perceived homosexuality has been on the rise, leaders in the education system have done little to keep up with the legal, political, and societal changes regarding equitable treatment of gay males and lesbians. Gay male and lesbian students are still not able to openly or authentically develop serious, meaningful, same-sex romantic relationships; nor are they able to express themselves without negative repercussions within the high school environment.
A qualitative phenomenological study of six gay males and six lesbians was conducted and analyzed. Participants who had attended high school during the decades of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s revealed their experiences within a heteronormative high school culture. These participants provided thick descriptions of how they felt, what they saw, and what they heard while they were in school.
Comparisons of the participants' responses about their experiences revealed that neither curriculum nor policies inclusive of gay male and lesbian students have significantly changed over the past 60 years. The responses often reflected that the high school experiences of the participants that were drawn from the later decades of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s (after the Civil Rights Movement, the Stonewall riots, and the removal of homosexuality as a mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) did not differ much from the high school experiences of the participants that were drawn from the earlier decades of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Conclusions drawn from the study indicate the need for policymakers, teachers, administrators, advocates, and citizens to commit to enacting policies and processes to ensure that gay male and lesbian students receive an equal and equitable education. The experiences of gay male and lesbian students in the education system must be free from abuse, ridicule, and fear. These students must be able to develop authentic personal relationships openly, and they must be able to freely and openly participate in all social activities provided by the school.
Corbin, Linda K., "Surviving High School as a Homosexual in a Heteronormative Culture" (2012). Ed.D. Dissertations in Leadership for Educational Justice. 83.