Navigating the Nuances: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students in the Graduate Classroom
By: Alysa Turkowitz
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/20/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: classroom, gay, graduate school, higher education, LGT, queer

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Description/Abstract: This qualitative study explored how 17 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) graduate students perceived their experiences in the graduate classroom. The study was conducted at a large graduate-level institution in the Eastern United States and focused on the classroom experiences of the students, including what factors influenced their engagement with learning in the classroom, and what activities they engaged in outside of the classroom to support their learning. A sample pool that represented differing genders, academic programs, and doctoral and master level graduate students were recruited. Criteria for participant inclusion in the sample was self-identification as non-heterosexual since college or prior and a current or recent graduate of the institution. Data were gathered through in-depth interviews, a focus group comprised of five participants who were not part of the original sample, and a demographic inventory. The study was guided by the following assumptions: (1) some LGB graduate students feel that their sexual orientation has an influence in learning in the graduate classroom; (2) heterosexism and power dynamics exist within society; (3) emotions can influence engagement with learning; and (4) this research can positively influence all learners.

Three distinct categories of the sample population were identified through the analysis--Advocates, Conflicted and Disconnected--based upon the roles within the classroom as defined by the researcher. A noteworthy commonality was that LGB graduate students perceived a lack of the gay perspective within graduate coursework and dialogue that influenced their engagement in the classroom. The study also showed faculty plays an influential role in the engagement of learning with LGB graduate students. A primary recommendation is that graduate institutions need to support faculty through appropriate training in how to manage and provide dialogue on sexual orientation in the graduate classroom for the benefit of all graduate students and future professionals.