Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Gay-straight alliances in schools--United States; Teachers--United States--Attitudes; Gay students--United States--Public opinion; Gay-straight alliances in schools; Teachers--Attitudes; United States; Academic theses;


The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers' attitudes toward sexual minority students (including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students) and issues related to this population of students. A sample of 166 high school teachers from schools with and without gay-straight alliances (GSAs) were compared on several measures to determine if teachers from schools with GSAs were significantly more supportive toward sexual minority students and issues than teachers in schools without GSAs .. Participants completed research packets containing the Professional Attitude Index Scale (PAIS) (Sears, 1992), a hypothetical situation of homophobia in a classroom for participants to provide a written description of their response, and a set of open-ended questions about their classroom practices. The results indicate that teacher attitudes did not differ significantly based on whether their school had a GSA; however, females and younger teachers indicated significantly more supportive attitudes toward sexual minority students than males and older teachers. When compared to Sears' (1992) original results, teachers indicated more supportive attitudes toward sexual minority students and issues, yet teachers are still less likely to take on counseling or advocacy roles. In response to a hypothetical incident of homophobia in their classroom, teachers were most likely to object to the use of derogatory language, discuss facts and statistics to address the misinformation, and/or explain that everyone is entitled to their opinion. When asked about inclusion of sexual minority issues into the curriculum, many teachers indicated that the topic does not lend itself to the content area and would only discuss the topic if students brought it up. These findings are discussed in relation to the social and emotional impact of a supportive or negative school environment for sexual minority youth.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Kimberly Knesting


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (70 pages)



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