Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Creating really sustainable communities": A case study on the formation of an LGBT activist group.
by Davidson, Abby Jane, M.A., Prescott College, 2013, 175; 1549986
Abstract (Summary)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth are disproportionately the targets of discrimination, hostility and violence (Kosciw et al, 2012). This pattern of oppression can follow LGBT youth onto the college campus, and play a shaping force in their development as young adults (Robison, 2011; Longerbeam et al, 2007). As compared to the larger campus population, LGBT students have to be constantly concerned for their safety and inclusion in all contexts of the college experience: residence halls, bathrooms, locker rooms, classrooms, and transportation, to name just a few (Fanucce & Taub, 2010; Burney, 2012; Evans, 2002; Finkel et al, 2003). The treatment of LGBT youth and college students in school settings reflects the larger issues of a homophobic society. Instead of falling victim to the pathologizing effect of discussing issues of the LGBT community (Renn, 2010; Harper, Bashir & Wilson, 2007), many LGBT youth and young adults have begun to stand and fight. It is within the confluence of a need for civic re-awakening of the present generation and action against LGBT oppression that college LGBT activism shines.

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to take an exploratory approach to assessing and describing the experiences of a group of first year LGBT students forming an LGBT-focused social justice group titled the Queer & Ally (Q&A) Action Research Team at Northern Arizona University. Specifically, I examined the perceptions that these first year undergraduate students hold towards the LGBT movement, other social justice movements, and sustainability. Though just as importantly, I explore with students what led them to be passionate about LGBT rights, through exploring their experiences as youth and new college students, and how it shapes their civic participation in college. Through representing the voices of student participants, I provide key insights regarding how the students articulate their process of civic re-engagement as students beginning their journeys in higher education.

A participant observer method was adopted as a means to gain access to this unique group of students. Through collaborating and building rapport with the students of Q&A, I conducted ten in depth, semi-structured interviews. Through the use of methodological triangulation (multiple participants, researcher journal), data triangulation (conducting interviews of a span of time and with multiple persons) analytic memos, member checking, peer checking, coding, structural analysis, thematic analysis and writing with rich, thick description, I analyzed the words shared by participants, and related them to pertinent literature and research sources. Findings of the study provide insight into students' experiences in the LGBT community and becoming engaged in LGBT activism, and highlight the difficulties, discrimination, and concerns for personal safety that many LGBT people are affected by. However, in the face of the difficulties that some participants shared, the students of Q&Arepresent noteworthy resiliency, strength, and tenacity. The story of Q&A in its first year of functioning represents a success story of students learning to support one another, and enacting meaningful change for the LGBT community and beyond.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Coles, Rom
Commitee: Clingan, Joan, Jurin, Richard
School: Prescott College
Department: Environmental Studies
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 52/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Sustainability, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Civic engagement, Lgbt activism, Lgbt youth, Sustainability
Publication Number: 1549986
ISBN: 978-1-303-63428-4
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