Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Michael Muffs

Second Supervisor

Byron Hargrove


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) college students to understand the relationship, if any, between sexual orientation and self-actualization at a private, religious college. Four recent graduates and 14 current students volunteered for semi-structured interviews about their academic and extracurricular experiences at a Roman Catholic college in the greater New York City area. They shared their perceptions of campus climate for GLB students, including homophobia and bias among faculty, staff, and students at the college. Interview data, viewed through the framework of Maslow’s theory of self-actualization and Astin’s student involvement theory, identified factors that support GLB self-actualization and others that discourage it. Such factors included students’ family life before and during college, their levels of outness, and their involvement on campus with an LGBT club and other activities. Findings suggest that GLB students perceive growing support from faculty, including those who belong to religious orders, but more resources and more awareness of GLB issues are needed. Further research on GLB experiences with self-actualization is needed. Studies set in different geographic regions, at schools with other religious affiliations, and in non-educational areas of life (such as youth organizations or sports) would be beneficial.

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