Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Bon


Fraternities and sororities are a well-established culture on many college campuses. Today, about 16% of all college graduates were members of a fraternity or sorority while attending their alma mater (Gallup, 2014). Out of this 16%, approximately 3-4% of sorority membership is known with certainty to be lesbian or bisexual (Case, 2005). What are the experiences of these women? Do they face specific challenges within sorority life due to their sexual orientation? This qualitative study examines the experiences of lesbians in Panhellenic sororities in order to bring light to a relatively invisible subculture and inform the practices of current practitioners. The research questions of this study included the following:

  1. What are the positive and negative experiences of lesbians in Panhellenic sororities?
  2. What challenges do lesbians in sororities face specifically due to their sexual orientation?

Interviews with women who self-identify as lesbians provide insight into these experiences and challenges. Overarching themes of role models, support systems, diversity, heterocentricism and more were identified and explored in relation to D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Identity Development.