Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Matthew D. Davis, PhD


Kashubeck-West, Susan

Hoagland, Carl

Heisserer, Jason


“…These questions are always hard to answer because when you’re living gay, you don’t know which decisions you’re making because you’re gay or because you’re living” (Adrian 596 – 598). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the ways lesbian school administrators in K-12 public schools answer questions about their sexuality from students and their parents and how their feelings, experiences and this partial or potential closet affect their leadership. I completed a series of three in depth interviews with eight European American school administrators that identify as lesbian. I begin by sharing a snapshot of the participants’ experiences with coming out to family, friends and district personnel. I found, that while all participants considered themselves implicitly or explicitly out with district personnel, their timeframes for disclosure varied and were influenced by seven common factors. All but one participant positioned themselves as closeted with students and their parents; there were six themes found in their responses to students and their parents and factors affecting their choices regarding revealing their lesbian identity. Participants’ positioning on the out continuum with district personnel and with students and their parents affected their leadership as school administrators.

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