Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Bárbara C. Cruz, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

J. Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James R. King, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Shircliffe, Ph.D.


Curricular decision-making, Diversity, Multiple masculinities, Secondary education, Sexual orientation, Teacher education


There is little known about the daily lives of gay teachers at school. Studies have been conducted in this area, but the wide range of individual life experiences makes it difficult to define the gay teacher experience. Gay teachers geographic location, gender, age,and race, are a few of those factors that will have a direct influence upon their lives.Therefore, I believe more focused, regional or case studies will yield better understandings of the lives that gay teachers lead at school.

Until now, no other study had investigated the lives of gay teachers in West Central Florida. I decided to focus this study on male teachers who teach in secondary schools because I believe the lesbian experience at school differs to such a degree to warrant aseparate study for them. I also believe that secondary teachers must confront controversial issues that are connected to the mandated curriculum and a more mature student audience that will be more apt to ask questions about those issues to a far greater extent than elementary school students.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of gay male teachers in West Central Florida and uncover their understandings of various key issues:the perceived impact of their sexual orientation on curricular decision-making, the perceived impact of their sexual orientation on classroom management, and their understandings of the perceived barriers to addressing homophobic language and coming out at school. After six months of conducting personal interviews, engaging in telephone conversations, and exchanging electronic mail messages with the seven participants inthis study, my analysis of the data resulted in the emergence of ten themes: (1) gay themed materials in the classroom, (2) interactions with students perceived to be gay, (3)separation of informants private lives from life at school, (4) informants perceptions ofproper conduct by a gay male teacher, (5) challenges and problems faced by the informants at school, (6) informants understandings of how students use homophobic language, (7) informants use of humor in the classroom, (8) informants relationships and interactions with colleagues at school, (9) informants perceptions of the acceptance of gay male teachers, and (10) informants perceived special talents of gay male teachers.

In the end, all seven informants shared their unique stories, but demonstrated some commonalities as well. All of them addressed gay-themed issues when they came up in class, all addressed homophobic language to some degree, and, with the exception of one individual, most agreed that it was best for gay male teachers to remain closeted at work, even if they personally wished that it could be different. I believe the one dissenting voice offers hope that at some time in the near future, gay male teachers will be able to be out at school despite the negative stereotypes that surround them. Further, the one dissenter demonstrated his ability to help all students better understand diversity, and his presence increases the possibility that someday teachers, administrators, and students will all be more open to accept the existence of and the performance of multiple forms of masculinity at school.