Date of Award

Spring 1-6-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Jennifer Esposito

Second Advisor

Donna Breault

Third Advisor

Patricia Carter

Fourth Advisor

Philo A. Hutcheson


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) college students have a history of suffering from discriminatory, marginalizing, and prejudicial attitudes and practices on American college and university campuses. Implementing a critical qualitative methodology, this study examined the lived experiences of 9 out gay and bisexual male college students at an urban research university located in the southeastern United States. The study focused on three research questions:

1) What is the college experience like for an individual who identifies as an out gay or male bisexual student?

2) What does safety mean to an individual who identifies as an out gay or male bisexual student?

3) How does an individual navigate staying safe as an out gay or male bisexual student?

The study found:

1) The presence of LGTB’ness is integral to the LGBT student experience.

2) Being involved and feeling connected to campus serves as a pivotal component of the LGBT student experience.

3) Navigating masculinity is complicated given traditional gender roles.

4) Classroom climate is a major factor for the success and safety of LGBT students.

Reviewing the results of this study college faculty, staff, and administrators can begin to understand the unique experiences of LGBT college students; and through this meaning making process, higher education officials can learn what is needed to improve the college experience for this historically marginalized minority. This study informed what colleges and universities can do to better meet the needs of LGBT college students and ensure they have a welcoming and safe college environment.