Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jennifer Brown Urban

Committee Member

Miriam R. Linver

Committee Member

Bradley van Eeden-Moorefield


Growing evidence shows that offering affirmation to LGBTQ+ youth is critical to their well-being; yet, strategies providing affirmation at the community level of youth ecologies are woefully under-addressed in the literature. The studies in this dissertation help fill this gap, examining affirmation: a) in community-based programs, b) from people and communities, and c) in program evaluations. Paper One focuses on LGBTQ+ culturally competent service in community-based youth programs (CBYPs). An exploratory factor analysis uncovered the dimensions of such competency in a 3-factor model: Individual Knowledge, Individual Comfort and Practice, and Perceptions of Overall Agency Comfort and Practice. A new retrospective pretest posttest instrument was developed and tested to evaluate a cultural competency workshop. Paired samples t-tests revealed participant increases in knowledge and comfort serving diverse LGBTQ+ youth, and ratings of agency practices creating affirming environments. Paper Two examined sources and density of interpersonal supports (friends, family, caring adults), and contextual support (communities) for LGBTQ+ youth of color. Strongest support came from friends and parents/guardians, then siblings and adults in the community. For youth with more marginalized identities, other sources of support were more prominent after friends and parents/guardians; various patterns are discussed. Youth connected to different identities/expressions had varied likelihoods of accessing sources of interpersonal support and community support. Paper Three offered methodological considerations for evaluators in LGBTQ+-focused CBYPs through evaluation planning, implementation/data management and analysis. Culturally competent evaluation affirms programs and participants, reduces inadvertent harm and promotes more methodologically sound, contextually appropriate work.

File Format