Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Allison Anders

Committee Members

Barbara Thayer Bacon, Leslee Fisher, Joy DeSensi



Although tolerance and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is growing in the United States, misconceptions and heterosexism still abound. Schools are one of the institutions where traditional gender roles are promoted and homosexuality is often ignored or punished. Too often lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are bullied by their peers while teachers look the other way. LGBT teachers often fear they will lose their jobs and social standing in the community if they are open about their sexual orientation. This environment provoked me to research lesbian teachers’ perceptions of heteronormativity in their private and public lives. I interviewed eleven teachers about their experiences and conducted a narrative analysis of their stories. Their experiences often hinged on how open they were about their sexuality. Coming out of the closet occurs at different times and with different people, depending on the situation. To come out of the closet at work is often a risk teachers refuse to take. Two of the teachers I interviewed were out at work and nine who were not. Using performance ethnography I represented the effects of heteronormativity on the lives of these teachers who identified as lesbian. It shows how their fears constrain them from coming out and demonstrates what can be accomplished when they do.

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