Constructing Rainbow Classrooms: Non-heterosexual Students Journey Toward Safer Schools

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Title: Constructing Rainbow Classrooms: Non-heterosexual Students Journey Toward Safer Schools
Author: Eaton, Lucille Elizabeth
Advisors: Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Anna V. Wilson, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Paul Bitting, Committee Member
Dr. Barbara Sparks, Committee Member
Abstract: According to the 2003 National Student Climate Survey (Kosciw, 2004), there is a widespread existence of victimization against non-heterosexual students in U.S. high schools. 80% of the students surveyed experience some form of verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school (Kosciw, 2004). In nearly 75% of these harassment incidents, neither a teacher nor an administrator intervened, providing an unsafe environment for these students. Recent research (Kosciw, 2004; Evans, 2000; LeCompte, 2000; Schneider & Owens, 2000) suggests that creating safe schools for non-heterosexual students improves their academic performance, their relationships with faculty, and their general attitude toward school. Using Narrative Inquiry, I interview three non-heterosexual female high school students in order to give voice to their experiences of alienation, harassment, and struggle with sexual identity. Additionally, the students discuss their visions of safe schools and their roles in creating and maintaining safe and welcoming school environments. Within the matrix of queer theory and queer pedagogy, I examine the components of safe schools that currently exist in these students' schools and relay what the students are doing to improve the level of tolerance and safety in their schools. I interview three other non-heterosexual females in order to contextualize the high school students' experiences. One teacher, one youth support group volunteer, and one young woman currently out of school provide additional layers of perspective as I analyze the narratives and suggest modifications in curriculum materials, instructional practices and administrative policies that will construct safer school environments.
Date: 2005-04-05
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Educational Research and Policy Analysis

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