The Experiences of Fully Disclosed Collegiate Student-Athletes who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender: A Qualitative Investigation

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Bennett, Hannah
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Middle Tennessee State University
In the United States, there has been an increase in acceptance of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) through modern culture and society (i.e., Adams, Andersen, & Fetner, 2008; Herek, 2000; Schafer & Shaw, 2009; Treas, 2002). However, sport and athletic arenas have yet to fully accept their non-heterosexual counterparts (i.e., Roper & Halloran, 2007). With the historical component of sport as a gender normalized, heteronormative, and male-dominated space (McKay, Messner, & Sabo, 2000; Messner, 2009), the purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of fully disclosed student-athletes who identified as LGBT during their collegiate sport careers. Four participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview process. Through the use of MAXQDA, their interviews were coded and analyzed through a phenomenological lens and a liberal feminist lens. While the experiences of all athletes were unique in their own right, there was an overwhelming consensus from all participants regarding the need to increase awareness and support of student-athletes who identify as LGBT within collegiate athletics and athletic departments. These suggestions can be implemented as steps to ensure safety and support of these athletes within collegiate athletics.
LGBTQ, Queer, Sport, Sport psychology, Student-athletes