Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Sauer

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Mark St. Martin


LGBT, ally development, MOGII, LGBTQ, heterosexual development, GSM


As the field of counseling psychology strives to embrace diversity and social justice issues, sexual minority issues have flourished into an active area of study among scholars and an area of focus for LGBT-affirming practitioners. One area of emphasis has been on how heterosexual people develop Anti-Heterosexist Identities. Some studies have noted the importance of friendship as it relates to Anti-Heterosexist Identity Development (Asta & Vacha- Haase, 2012; Duhigg, Rostosky, & Gray, 2010; DiStefano et al., 2000; Gelberg & Chojnacki, 1995; Larson, 2012), however, no known studies have more deeply explored the role of crosssexuality friendships. The purpose of this study is to examine the friendships between sexual minority people and heterosexual people in counseling psychology doctoral programs in order to gain an understanding of what impact close, interpersonal relationships have on heterosexual Anti-Heterosexist Identity Development.

To examine how cross-sexuality friendships impact Anti-Heterosexist Identity Development, I employed a qualitative methodology, called constructivist grounded theory (Bryan & Charmaz, 2007). A purposive sampling strategy was utilized and included the use of faculty informants and the distribution of recruitment materials to counseling psychology doctoral programs and social media. Twenty-four heterosexual and sexual minority individuals that had experienced a close, cross-sexuality friendship during their doctoral program participated in 60-90 minute, semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Ten of those participants came back to participate in online focus groups in order to provide member-checking and additional information on certain topics that arose during the data analysis.

Employing constructivist grounded theory analysis while also adhering to the main tenets of critical theory, a theoretical framework of how cross-sexuality friendships influence heterosexual Anti-Heterosexist Identity emerged. The theoretical model is comprised of four major themes and associated subthemes, including: History and Context, Description and Progression of the Friendship, Learning and Perception, and finally, Change and Action. The experience of heterosexual counseling psychology students in cross-sexuality friendships helped the participants in this study gain meaningful comprehension about sexual minority issues and people. The resulting theory holds implications not only for future research on this topic, but also for counseling psychology doctoral programs wanting to encourage their students to adopt Anti- Heterosexist Identities, by including a focus on the education about oppressive systems and heterosexism into the curriculum, by including experiential learning exercises, and by striving to achieve diversity among students, faculty, and staff.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access