Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Leadership & Policy Studies
In the world of Division I intercollegiate athletics, much remains to be understood about self-identified lesbian student-athletes experiences, educational practices, and conditions that promote their development. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the academic and sport experiences of self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes in the United States. In addition, the study aimed to understand how strategies used by lesbian Division I student-athletes helped establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within both environments. The research questions that guided this study were as follows: 1. How do self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes experience their higher education academic environment? 2. How do self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes experience their sport environment? 3. How do strategies used by self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes help establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within academic and sport environments? The underlying theoretical perspectives used in this study were interpretivism and phenomenology due to the studys nature of understanding how participants experienced their academic and sport environments as lesbian Division I student-athletes. Data were gathered through semi-structured phenomenological interviews and document analysis then analyzed using open coding and thematic analysis in order to most accurately capture the essence of the participants academic and sport experiences. Three themes emerged from data analysis: 1) Self-Acceptance: Background of Support; 2) Visibility of the LGBTQ Community; and 3) Sense of Belonging. These themes encapsulated the full range of experiences in academic (i.e., interactions with faculty members, support staff, students, and experiences in the classroom and on campus) and sport (i.e., interactions with teammates, coaches, administrators, and experiences during team and athletic-related events) environments as well as strategies used to establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within both environments. The experiences of the participants provided implications for practice so as to further establish and sustain environments of acceptance and respect so inclusion is the norm, not the exception. These recommendations for resource development in Division I collegiate academic and sport environments continues the aim to make higher education a growingly accepting and respectful space for lesbian student-athletes to thrive academically and athletically.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Pfeiffer, Meghan, "Exploration of the Experiences of Self-Identified Lesbian Division I Student-Athletes in the United States" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1884.