Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Dana Levitt

Committee Member

Michele Knobel

Committee Member

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Matthew Shurts


As institutions of higher education have become increasingly cognizant of the need to ensure a welcoming campus climate for all members of their student populations, they have begun to undertake campus climate studies to assess student experiences and perceptions. While the majority of studies have been quantitative in nature, in-depth qualitative studies have been conducted in recent years. These studies have started to provide institutions with opportunities to really hear and understand the experiences of their students. The purpose of this study was to hear and understand the reported experiences of LGBTQ college students with campus climate at a mid-sized Mid-Atlantic university, with the hope that the institution will be able to utilize the data to help ensure as welcome a campus climate as possible. Four themes emerged from the interviews with the students: “I choose to disclose my identity (ies);” “I refuse to be bound by gender binaries;” “Can’t I be LGBTQ and religious;” and, “The importance of a physical and a symbolic space.” Based upon the themes, other findings, and the students’ descriptions of their experiences, recommendations for best practices are offered.