This qualitative study explored the ways in which lesbian and gay educators, in the Midwest part of the country, negotiate their sexual identities in their school settings. Ten gay and lesbian public and Catholic school educators from rural, suburban, and urban schools were interviewed. The purpose of this study was to determine how gay and lesbian teachers negotiate their identities and how those negotiated identities affect their relationships in their school communities. Four gay and lesbian teachers and two gay administrators from public schools were interviewed about their experiences in their school settings. Additionally, a focus group of five Catholic school educators, from two different schools, was conducted. Each of these educators negotiated their sexual identities differently within their school communities; however, descriptors such as age, experience level, and school setting did not affect their identity negotiation. Most of these educators were unable to negotiate their sexual identity with their teacher identity due to fear of intimidation and discrimination, or being fired. The only exceptions being when they cautiously negotiated their sexual identities with a few of their colleagues. This raises questions about school policy and school culture for the inclusion of gay and lesbian individuals in schools.


gay and lesbian educators, school policy, inclusive school culture, relationships within school communities



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