Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer

Third Advisor

Dr. Sarah Bryan


LGBTQ+ school experience, education, Dominican Republic educational system


Studies show that, in general, schools fall short when it comes to serving LGBTQ+ students, sometimes even ignoring the situations regarding bullying, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism that arise. The detrimental effects of repressive, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, and other marginalizing school environments on LGBTQ+ students are well-documented in the research. However, the limited research available on the school experiences of LGBTQ+ students in Dominican K-12 schools suggests the country could benefit from examining the breadth and depth of the reality of LGBTQ+ students in its schools.

The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of recent graduates in the K-12 Dominican education system. This study aimed to explore how these students derived meaning from their experiences and how these experiences had shaped who they are today and how they are living their lives. Participants included 12 individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and graduated from the Dominican education system in the last decade. Data was collected through in-depth narrative interviews and a participant demographic form and was analyzed using Moustakas’ (1994) modification of Van Kaam’s (1959, 1966) method of analysis of phenomenological data.

Findings suggest LGBTQ+ individuals in the DR need to adjust to home, school, and societal expectations. At home, participants encountered hardships and lack of support and acceptance. In school, participants were bullied and harassed. Schools lacked inclusive and protective policies for LGBTQ+ individuals and proper sex education. Additionally, schools were generally unprepared to handle the situations that arose with these students regarding their sexual or gender identity. The study findings illustrate a dissonance between the country’s espoused cultural and religious norms and the way LGBTQ+ individuals experience family, school and societal response to who they are. This study is the first to examine the school experience of LGBTQ+ individuals in Dominican K-12 schools. The study suggests further research on the long-term impact these school experiences have on LGBTQ+ individuals in the country, and on the lived experiences of families with LGBTQ+ individuals and educational institutions with LGBTQ+ students. The study also suggests research to determine why policymakers, administrative personnel, and teachers are ill prepared to address bullying and discrimination on the basis of sexual and gender identity.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access