Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Nicole R. Hill


Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Theory, Connectedness and/or Alienation, Heteronormativity and Homonormativity, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, Strategic Outness and Covering

Subject Categories

Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Four youth who identified as sexual or gender minorities were recruited from a high school in Upstate New York for a study designed to investigate the experiences that facilitate or hinder their ability to fully question and explore their identities between and across relationships and contexts. This current investigation utilized Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Theory as a means with which to structure both the interviews with the informants as well as the findings. I also utilized Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis as the means of gathering, interpreting, and presenting the data in a meaningful way. The participants engaged in a range of interpersonal and context dependent strategies in an effort to manage the real, perceived, or anticipated reactions to their identities. Careful disclosure of their identities appears to have minimized rejection, as well as incidents of bullying, and was implemented with the goal of maintaining a sense of connectedness to the relationships and contexts most relevant to their development. A positive experience following the disclosure of their sexual or gender identities was associated with a sense of connectedness and a reduction in incidents of self-harm or social isolation in one or more relationships or contexts.


Open Access