Title

Challenges And Coping Mechanisms Of Hampshire College Students Whose Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Do Not Conform To The Dominant Norm

Publication Date

7-1-2007

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider

Abstract

All of us possess a deeply felt sense of who we are as sexual and gender beings. But, are we free to take a journey of self-discovery and awareness toward a sexual orientation and gender identity that feel right to each of us? How does the dominant heteropatriarchal narrative affect the youngsters who are in the most intense process of building up these identities, especially the ones who do not conform to the gender and sexuality norms? This paper explores the challenges that college-age gender and sexuality non-conforming students face in their schools and homes and coping mechanisms they use to help them build a positive identity and lead productive lives. For this purpose four in-depth interviews with Hampshire College gender and sexuality non-conforming students were conducted. A thorough research of relevant literature was also undertaken. The interview data were coded and relocated in categories and then according to the similarities they were reorganized into thematic units on which the final analysis was based. The research demonstrated that the interviewed gender and sexuality non-conforming students face enormous challenges in their homes and schools. Negative consequences take the form of self-blame, low self-esteem and self-sabotage. The most important finding is that the students achieved an increased consciousness that their reality is transformative. This led them to take a variety of actions to change their situation in their homes and schools. The findings of this research can be of practical use to the United States academic institutions, to Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender organizations and to student and other queer youth organizations.

Disciplines

Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology

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