Date of Award

5-2002

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Peggy Albers

Second Advisor

Joyce Many

Third Advisor

Kathryn A. Kozaitis

Fourth Advisor

Joan Wynne

Abstract

Many studies have demonstrated that lesbian and gay students are often more likely to suffer from high risk factors. These students often have higher rates of suicide, are more likely to drop out, use drugs and alcohol, etc. Often schools do not provide this invisible minority with appropriate support.

One natural place to address lesbian/gay issues in the high school curriculum is the literature classroom. Literature textbooks often include statistically high numbers of lesbian/gay authors. However, often literature teachers are reluctant to identify the sexuality of these authors, and rarely do these teachers introduce issues of sexuality in any other way. In this study, I examine why some teachers avoid discussions of lesbian/gay issues and why others include them.

The overarching theory that I use in my research is that of lesbian/gay/queer theory. While the term lesbian/gay/queer theory might seem to be an unnecessarily long and awkward title, I use it here to make it clear that I will be combining elements of lesbian/gay theory with elements of queer theory. My purpose in doing this is to craft a study that will embrace both the practical aspects and the academic rigor required to meet the changing needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (queer) people.

Since this study examines attitudes, the design is a qualitative one. I gather data from many sources including informal observations, classroom observations, interviews, and focus groups. Rigor is provided through prolonged engagement, member checking, and triangulation of data through multiple sources.

My results shed light on why individuals in this group of literature teachers often approach the study of lesbian/gay issues in a multitude of ways and have a number of different reasons for their various approaches.

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