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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The spiritual development of nonheterosexual undergraduate students
by Payne Gold, Shaunna, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2010, 256; 3387320
Abstract (Summary)

Spiritual development and nonheterosexual identity development are both slippery topics that are individually complex and multifaceted. Scholars from various disciplines have called for a deeper understanding of the intersection of spirituality and nonheterosexual identity (Buchanan, Dzelme, Harris & Hecker, 2001; Love, Bock Jannarone, & Richardson, 2005; Shuck & Liddle, 2001). The coming-out process can be a strong motivator for exploring one's spiritual identity because of the realities of spiritual oppression by non-gay affirming organized religions and individuals. A large percentage of nonheterosexual students are interested in spirituality (de la Huerta, 1999), however they are not being supported through practice or research.

The Spiritual Development of Nonheterosexual Students is an exploratory study that seeks to understand how nonheterosexual students anchor themselves in a sense of spirituality during the coming-out process. Using the integrated map of young adults' developmental journey as a conceptual framework (Taylor, 2008), in addition to constructivist and emancipatory research paradigms, an online, free-response web survey captured descriptors of the spiritual experiences of nonheterosexual undergraduate students.

In the first section of the survey, each participant completed an anonymous web survey with basic demographic information, including the Outness Inventory, which rated sexual identity with an "outness" score (Mohr & Fassinger, 2000). In the second section, participants answered a structured interview protocol using free response that primarily focused on spiritual development as part of the coming-out process. Forty-seven participants completed the survey in its entirety. Using AtlasTi and the general inductive process for analysis, eight major themes emerged. These themes included definitions of spirituality, spiritual classification, modes of spiritual navigation, poignant influences, processes of coming out, recipients of nonheterosexual disclosure, spectrum of acceptance, and intersection of multiple identities.

As a result of this study, several future implications are highlighted. Researching spirituality spiritually; including sexual identity as part of overall campus diversity and inclusion concerns; utilizing epistemologies and methodologies that are contrary to the Eurocentric worldview; encouraging conversations between higher education scholars, practitioners and campus ministers; and exploring the spiritual development trajectories of transgender students emerged as challenges and opportunities at the conclusion of this study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Molasso, William
Commitee: Guenzler-Stevens, Marsha, Jackson, Jacqueline S., McShay, James, Stewart, Dafina L.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Higher Education Administration
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious education, Spirituality, Higher education
Keywords: Identity development, LGBT, Nonheterosexual, Spiritual development, Spirituality, Undergraduate students
Publication Number: 3387320
ISBN: 978-1-109-53333-0
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