Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Christine E. Clark

Second Committee Member

Thomas Bean

Third Committee Member

Shaoan Zhang

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



The purpose of this multiple case study is to examine how the negotiation and enactment of gay teacher identity interrupts heteronormativity in school contexts. This study utilizes a conceptual framework that incorporates an understanding of teacher identity negotiation in terms of gay identity development (Cass, 1979) and the Multicultural Enactment-Transactional Model (Cross, 2012). This framework also examines a teacher's perceptions about the school context in terms of identity-based motivation (Oyserman & Destin, 2010) and a relational justice perspective (Poole, 2008).

This study theorizes that the heteronormative nature of schooling is a limiting factor for gay teachers abilities' to work and thrive in school contexts. The goal of this study is to answer the question: Does the enactment of gay teacher identity interrupt heteronormativity in schools? as well as two ancillary questions: 1) How do gay teachers negotiate gay teacher identity in schools? and, 2) How do school contexts impact gay teachers' perceptions of identity-based motivation and relational justice?

This study had two phases. In phase one, participants completed an online survey that determined their location along the Homosexual Identity Formation model continuum (Cass, 1979) and garnered information about their teaching history and context. In phase two, participants completed two interviews and related reflective and focused journaling activities. These data were analyzed for themes and patterns using the four perspectives that bound the conceptual framework. The goal of this research was to increase understanding of how negotiation and enactment of a "gay teacher identity" in school contexts interrupts heteronormativity.

Triangulation of data from phase one revealed two major themes first, the participants had varying conceptions and enactments of being "out" and second the participants indicated dissonance and variety in terms of "is `out' appropriate?" In phase two, four individuals were profiled. Cross's (2012) METM was used to analyze each case to understand their negotiation and enactment of gay identity. Oyserman and Destin's (2010) theory of IBM and Poole's (2008) notion of relational justice helped to identify three pervasive themes during the cross case analysis: teacher preparation and professional development, perception/nonperception of administrative support, and activist teaching. Finally, the conceptual framework was revisited and reformatted into a model of gay teacher identity. The discussion identified recommendations for teacher education, educational leadership, and for gay teachers seeking to utilize the model of gay teacher identity to interrupt heteronormativity in schools.


Gay identity; Gay teachers; Gays – Identity; Identity (Psychology); Identity based motivation; Relational justice; Teacher education; Teacher identity; Teachers – Training of


Educational Leadership | Teacher Education and Professional Development

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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