Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick Munley

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda Reeser


The scholarly literature has just recently begun to address the role that heterosexual allies can play in responding to the unique needs and challenges facing LGBT people. As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Campus Resource Centers are expanding in number and scope on college and university campuses across the United States, heterosexual allies have increased opportunities to support and advocate for LGBT people. Yet very little is known about what heterosexual allies do, or how their presence and actions impact LGBT people. The purpose of this study is to identify and describe the experiences that LGBT individuals have with heterosexual allies.

Initial and follow-up phone interviews were conducted with seven directors of LGBT Campus Centers who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Interview questions were designed to elicit detailed descriptions regarding directors' experiences working with student, faculty, staff, and administrator allies on campus. A phenomenological approach to data analysis was conducted in order to identify the common elements of LGBT directors' experiences with allies.

Four key contributions emerged. First, findings reveal a broad range of ally activities, including examples of participation in LGBT Center organizations or programs, responding appropriately to LGBT concerns, and taking proactive steps to advocate for LGBT people. Second, directors illustrate the significant impact of allies, underscoring the positive benefits of allies to LGBT as well as heterosexual members of campus communities. Third, directors describe having experiences with allies at different levels of development. Finally, directors note common challenges in regard to working with allies.

Results regarding the activities of allies are compatible with the ally roles of support, education, and advocacy proposed by Broido (2000). Since very little is known about LGBT Campus Centers and the directors of these centers, the current findings contribute greatly by offering descriptive data about the experiences of directors as they interact with allies. Additionally, results enhance our understanding of ally development, and highlight the potential usefulness for structuring interventions that are appropriate to allies at various developmental stages. Finally, findings suggest direct implications for enhancing ally training and development programs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access