Gay, Rural, and Coming Out: A Case Study of One School’s Experience

Nicholas J. Pace

Abstract


This case study details the events surrounding a gay student’s “coming out” in a small, rural high school. Through the eyes and experiences of the student, his teachers, classmates, and  community, we hear the story of how the school and community dealt with an issue they had never before actively considered. Through qualitative interviews, the former high school principal describes reactions and lessons learned as the student made his sexual orientation known, attended prom, and was awarded one of three Matthew Shepard Scholarships given in the state. The unexpected way in which events unfolded in the school and community were nearly as surprising as the revelation of the student’s sexual orientation. The experiences reinforce the importance of school climate, meaningful relationships between students and staff, the sometimes hidden challenges of high school, and provide valuable considerations for all educators.

References


Adler, P.A. & Adler, P. (1987). Membership roles in field research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Bogdan, R.C. & Bicklin, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods. (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of qualitative research. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Elia, J.P. (1993). Homophobia in the high school: A problem in need of a resolution. The High School Journal, 17, 177-185.

Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). (2001). The 2001 National School Climate Survey. Retrieved March 25, 2004 from http://www.glsen.org/binarydata/GLSEN_ATTACHMENTS/file/274-2.PDF

Harris, M.B. & Bliss, G.K. (1997). Coming out in a school setting: Former students’ experiences about disclosure. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 7(4), 85-100.

Human Rights Watch. (2001). Hatred in the hallways: Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in U.S. schools. New York: Author.

Lambda Legal (n.d.). Gay, lesbian & bi teens: Students and schools. Retrieved November 17, 2003, from http://www.lambda.org/Gay_student_facts.htm

Massachusetts Department of Education. (1999). 1999 Massachusetts youth risk behavior survey. Retrieved March 25, 2004 from http://www.doe.mass.edu/hssss/yrbs99/toc.html

Miceli, M. (1998). Recognizing all the differences: Gay youth and public education in America today. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59 (06), 2192. (UMI No. 9837835)

Sears, J.T. (1991). Educators, homosexuality, and homosexual students: Are personal feelings related to professional beliefs? Journal of Homosexuality, 22, 29-79.

Telljohann, S.K. & Price, J.H. (1993). A qualitative examination of adolescent homosexuals’ life experiences: Ramifications for secondary school personnel. Journal of Homosexuality, 26(1), 41-56.

Walling, D.R. (1993). Gay teens at risk. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.


Full Text: PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Publication of the National Rural Education Association - http://www.nrea.net

Report problems or questions about to the website to jshedd@library.msstate.edu