Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Elizabethe C. Payne


LGBT allies, social foundations, teachers

Subject Categories



This dissertation is a year-long qualitative exploration of the experiences and perspectives of classroom teachers who identify as "allies" or "supporters" for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) public school students. Nine teachers representing five secondary schools in Central New York participated in three semi-structured interviews and approximately fifteen hours of classroom observation. Questions driving this research focused on (1) how teacher allies make meaning of LGBTQ students' needs and their roles in addressing those needs; (2) how participants integrate "ally" work into the larger context of their professional practice; and (3) participants' management of stigma or resistance around their "ally" work. Findings illuminate how educators engage in the work of supporting LGBTQ students without directly speaking about or acknowledging how gender and sexuality are relevant to experiences of teaching and learning. Educators instead framed the needs of LGBTQ students and the possibilities for improving their school experiences within broader frameworks of supporting diversity, teaching tolerance, safe schools, and anti-bullying. It will be argued that these frameworks provide rhetorical and instructional tools for talking about and implementing strategies that aim to encompass the needs of "all students" but do not require educators to consider how or why heterosexual, gender conforming identities are privileged and LGBTQ identities are marginalized in school environments.


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