Date of Award

Spring 3-20-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning


Secondary Education

First Advisor

Amber Jean-Marie Pabon

Second Advisor

Kathleen Stanfa

Third Advisor

Mark Wolfmeyer


This qualitative study is focused on the secondary educational experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) youth. Based on the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 2017 survey results, researchers asserted that the school climate remains hostile for LGBTQ+ youth (Kosciw et al., 2018). Three specific factors contributing to this adverse climate are: (a) students’ safety, (b) school policies, and (c) teacher inaction. Therefore, this qualitative study put forth the following research question: What can be learned from the secondary school experiences of genderqueer/gender nonbinary youth? This main question was followed with the following sub-questions: a) What did their experiences reveal about school connectedness?; b) How did they view their identity in relationship to their secondary school experiences?; and c) How did their school experiences inform how they view allies? The three participants included in this study self-identified as genderqueer or gender nonbinary and were 19 years old. These participants attended public middle and high school for some or all of their secondary schooling. The themes that emerged through both narrative analysis and multiple coding cycles include: 1) connections and disconnections to school; 2) positive teacher relationships; and 3) identity as a reflection of self. Based on my analysis of these themes using a queer theoretical framework, I propose to provide educators with professional development that will develop an awareness of heteronormative and gender normative cultures within schools. This professional development seeks to address how teachers have the opportunity to disrupt the heteronormative and gender normative culture.



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