Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Allison Anders

Second Advisor

Robert Johnson


In the United States, often Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and/or Questioning (LGBTQ) students are targets of verbal harassment and violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression. Further, 31 states do not offer protection against sexuality- or gender identity-based discrimination (ACLU, 2015). Schools are particularly vexing places, where L, G, B, T, and/or Q-identified students face difficulties due to the privileging of heterosexual students and heternormativity. In universities across the nation, suicide rates continue to climb for LGBTQ populations due to heterosexist policies, procedures, and practices, which lead to negative campus climates (Gortmaker & Brown, 2006; Howard & Stevens, 2000; Rankin, 2003). In this study, I used a mixed-methods approach to examine the campus climate for LGBTQ students who are out at a primarily white institution (PWI) in the South. I hypothesized that students who were out would experience campus climate more negatively than those who were not. While my findings did not indicate a significant relationship between outness and campus climate variables, students reported experiencing harassment on campus and negative experiences with Greek Life. Moreover, 81% reported passing as straight to maintain comfort on campus.


© 2015, Leia Kristin Cain