Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

Major Professor

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

Committee Members

Laura Wheat, Mitsunori Misawa, Barbara Thayer-Bacon


Development is propagated through cultural tools provided by society to dictate the normative process for transitioning to an adult status. Cultural tools are the tools we learn from society to help us understand how the world works and how we exist within it (Kincheloe, 2005). A person’s background highly influences the tools they are provided. Southern cultural norms are repressive and do not provide individuals the necessary cultural tools to navigate their personal development beyond a heteronormative, Christian way of life. Using autoethnography methods (Ellis, 2004; Kincheloe, 2005) data was collected through personal interviews of three main characters as witness to my development, three coming-of-age novels, and narrative interviews collected in conjunction with an LGBTQ history project. The results of this analysis created a better understanding of some of the potential barriers for children and young adults who are female, white, lower socioeconomic status and growing up in the South may face when establishing their adult status and self-identity as it relates to their sexuality. These barriers, or emerging themes, are the intersection of southern culture, religion, and sexuality, the impact of childhood trauma and mental health, and shame. Implications of the findings and directions for future research are provided.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 15, 2028

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