Life histories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer postsecondary students who choose to persist education against the tide

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


School of Education and Health Sciences


Advisor: Carolyn Ridenour


The purpose of this study was to ascertain what factors enable some gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer (GLBQ) students to persist in college whereas a significant number leave. Specifically, the research question that framed this study was What factors in a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer person's life history enable him or her to persist through higher education and successfully obtain an undergraduate degree?" A life history methodology (Bertaux, 1981; Cole, 2001; Denzin, 1989; Goodson, 2001; Goodson & Sikes, 2001; Hatch & Wisniewski, 1995) was used to capture the lived experiences of 3 female and 3 male postsecondary students who self-identified as GLBQ and were on target to successfully complete their bachelor's degree within one academic year. Additionally, participants were asked to identify where they believed they reside on frequently cited queer identity development models (Cass, 1984; Coleman, 1982; Lipkin, 1999; Troiden, 1989). A grounded-theory approach to data analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) was utilized in order to identify the factors that help or hinder a GLBQ postsecondary student's academic progression. Ten common themes or factors were found to exist among the participants. These were: (1) high behavioral expectations during childhood and adolescence; (2) a strong family connection; (3) strong work ethic; (4) high educational expectations; (5) guardian acceptance; (6) involvement in GLBQ activities on campus; (7) sexuality as a component of the whole person; (8) self-confidence and autonomy; (9) ability to deal with life's obstacles while taking care of themselves and continuing forward; and (10) tendency toward planning and the possession of a post-graduation course of action. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are presented."


Sexual minority college students, Prediction of scholastic success

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Copyright © 2009, author