Font Size: a A A

Jumping the rail: Exploring the lives of lesbian and bisexual women students on university campuses

Posted on:2006-10-28Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Loyola University ChicagoCandidate:Berryman, TerriFull Text:PDF
Lesbian and bisexual students on university campuses face unique challenges in the development of a sexual identity. Due to the historical and cultural context in which they live, they come to campus with higher expectations for support and services. However, due to the understudied nature of sexual identity development in traditionally-aged college populations, little is understood about their experiences. This qualitative study explores the lives of eleven women on two Midwestern campuses over a three-semester timeframe.; The study's conceptual framework, based on the research of D'Augelli, focuses on significant events, relationships, cultural context and sexual fluidity of these women. Using photo elicitation as a technique to allow students to set the study's context, the students took photos of people, places, and things representing significant support and detractors. The photos were used as prompts for in-depth interviews about student experiences. Data collected included photos, student journals, interview transcripts and researcher observations.; Key findings are categorized utilizing D'Augelli's conceptual framework. Significant events include coming out and events in the national spotlight such as the gay-marriage debate. Coming out for these students is an on-going process. National events create an emerging sense of activism in these women. In terms of relationships, a strong social network with peers and allies is critical in the development of a sexual identity. Families of origin are often problematic. Becoming involved with a significant other often is the prompt for coming out. In terms of the cultural context on college campuses, these students often interpret small signs of acceptance as significant. They also comment on the assumed heterosexuality of faculty and students. The presence of a LBGT center and a space for congregating was the most important resource on campus for these students. Sexual fluidity is not apparent for these participants due to pressure from peers.; Since lesbian and bisexual students arrive on college campuses with unique challenges and needs, colleges must create an appropriate climate. Campus climates can be placed on a continuum ranging from tolerance and moving through acceptance toward nurturance and integration.
Keywords/Search Tags:Students, Campus, Sexual, Women
Related items