How Social Support and Sexuality-Based Expectations Shape Former Students' Perspectives on Being Out in High School
Murphy, Meghan A.
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This dissertation provides an analysis of the positive high school experiences that many LGB students have. Based on interviews with 67 recent high school graduates who were "out" in high school, I find that these teens were able to turn to a network of teachers, friends, peers, and families for support, which helped them report having a better overall experience compared to previous scholarship on this topic. While I do not suggest that all gay, lesbian, or bisexual teens have good high school experiences, it is critical that to understand the variety of experiences that individuals in a group may have, and why people's experiences may differ. In the empirical chapters of the dissertation, I analyze what respondents perceived to be the best and worst aspects about being out in high school; the relationship between schools that sponsor or promote pro-gay events and how teachers respond to the anti-gay rhetoric they hear in school; and the sexuality-based expectations that others place on LGB students. I conclude with a discussion of the methodological and theoretical implications of my research, and offer directions for future research.