Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Studies

Department

Sociology and Family Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Hunt

Second Advisor

Amber Paulk

Third Advisor

Yaschica Williams

Abstract

Decades of research demonstrates that adolescents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ), are at higher risk of peer victimization, harassment, and bullying compared to heterosexual youth. It is reported that 3 out of every 4 LGBTQ students are verbally harassed and 1 out of every 3 is physically bullied (Kosciw et al., 2014). Exposure to constant victimization, harassment, and bullying can subsequently pave the way to a host of negative psychological and educational outcomes. The current research is a systematic review and a meta-analysis of school climate and its impact on the LGBTQ students. This research investigates whether the disparity in rates of victimization, harassment, and bullying in school can explain adverse psychological and educational outcomes experienced by sexual minority youth. The study also demonstrates the buffering influence of a positive and supportive school climate. In addition, a case study of the policies and practices of Alabama public schools is conducted to evaluate the state’s responsiveness towards the needs of the LGBTQ students. Results suggest that sexual minority youth are at an increased risk of victimization, harassment, and bullying. Further, these experiences contribute to a host of adverse psychological and educational outcomes. Moreover, the present study demonstrates that positive and supportive school climate plays a protective role in buffering the negative outcomes experienced by the sexual minority student.

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