Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Leslee A. Fisher

Committee Members

Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Lars Dzikus


According to Griffin (1998), the U.S. NCAA Division I sport environment is not very welcoming for lesbian student-athletes because of existing negative myths and stereotypes. In addition, the experiences of both current and former lesbian collegiate athletes is an underrepresented research topic. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of 10 former U.S. NCAA Division I lesbian student-athletes using a semi-structured personal identity interview guide (Fisher, 1997) and Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997). Five domains, 19 categories, and related core ideas were found in the transcribed interviews. In Domain I: Stereotypes and perceptions of female athletes, participants described how U.S. society projects that female athletes are “lesser than” male athletes. In Domain II: Stereotypes and perceptions of lesbians and lesbian athletes, participants reported that stereotypes about lesbians and lesbian athletes were appearance-driven and sport-dependent. In Domain III: Climate for LGBT* athletes, participants stated that while feeling accepted on their former team, their athletic departments remained fairly silent on LGBT issues and had a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In Domain IV: Negotiating identities, participants described the ways in which they negotiated their identities. Specifically, they emphasized the fact that there was more to their personhood than being gay, and that they revealed or concealed certain aspects of their identity depending on the context in they were in. Many practical recommendations for college campuses (Domain V) also came out of the interviews that have the potential to make the sport environment friendlier for lesbian and other sexual minority athletes. These recommendations are useful for applied sport psychology consultants, coaches, and administrators, all of whom play an important part in athletes’ collegiate sport experience.

*LGB, LGBT, LGBTQ, etc. will be used in the document depending upon an author’s use of it.

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