Melissa A. Bullard
of: Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Title: Working with Heterosexual Allies on Campus: A Qualitative
Exploration of Experiences among LGBT Directors of LGBT Campus Resource
Dr. Mary Z. Anderson, Chair
Dr. Patrick Munley
Dr. Linda Reeser
Monday, March 8, 2004 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The scholarly literature has just recently begun to address the role
that heterosexual allies can play in responding to the unique needs
and challenges facing LGBT people, particularly on college and university
campuses. As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Campus Resource
Centers (CRCs) expand in number and scope across the United States,
heterosexual allies have increased opportunities to support and advocate
for LGBT people. Yet very little is known about what heterosexual allies
do, or how their presence and actions impact LGBT people. The purpose
of this study is to identify and describe the experiences that LGBT
individuals have with heterosexual allies.
Initial and follow-up phone interviews were conducted with 7 directors
of LGBT CRCs who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Interview questions were designed to elicit detailed descriptions regarding
directors' experiences working with student, faculty, staff, and administrator
allies on campus. A phenomenological approach to data analysis was conducted
in order to identify the common elements of LGBT directors' experiences.
Four key contributions emerged. First, findings reveal a broad range
of ally activities, including examples of participation in LGBT Center
organizations or programs, responding appropriately to LGBT concerns,
and taking proactive steps to advocate for LGBT people. Secondly, directors
illustrate the significant impact of allies, underscoring the positive
benefits of allies to LGBT as well as heterosexual members of campus
communities. Third, directors describe having experiences with allies
at different levels of development. Finally, directors note common challenges
in regards to working with allies.
Results regarding the activities of allies are compatible with the ally
roles of support, education, and advocacy proposed by Broido (2000).
Since very little is known about LGBT CRCs and the directors of these
centers, the current findings contribute greatly by offering descriptive
data about the experiences of directors as the interact with allies.
Additionally, results expand our understanding of ally development,
and highlight the potential usefulness for structuring interventions
that are appropriate to various ally developmental stages. Finally,
findings suggest direct implications for enhancing ally training and
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