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Title:The experience gay males face in the obtaining and maintaining of their positions in educational leadership
Author(s):Prosen, Chad
Director of Research:Shields, Carolyn M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mayo, Cris S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shields, Carolyn M.; Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn A.; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ)
Abstract:There have been many studies, including school-based research, detailing the rejection, violence, and hatred experienced by gay men (Hershberger, Pilkington, & D’Augelli, 1997; King, 2004; Rasmussen, 2004). Despite these findings, political, legal, and social changes that began in the late 1960s have created a different political and legal landscape in many areas of American society enabling gay men to enter leadership positions with fewer obstacles than might be expected. This experience begs the question, are gay male leaders products of the political, social, and legal change process that began in the 1960s, or have they merely assimilated and adopted homonormative lifestyles in order to achieve their positions of power and leadership? This research presents a combination of the processes and influences that have forged a unique experience for gay male educational leaders. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the experiences of gay male educational leaders through a modern social, legal, and political context within American society. Through the use of elite interviews, three participants were interviewed in order to develop a better understanding of their pathways to educational leadership. The author’s perspective was also offered in order to develop further understanding of pathways to educational leadership. The participants were identified through a word-of-mouth methodology. By using qualitative inquiry, this study first explored the foundation for openly gay leadership in the traditional and conservative field of education. In order to place the questions posed by this research in context, the establishment of gender-specific identity and roles within schools was explored to help understand how such constructs within schools led to impediments whereby openly gay leadership in schools is only a recently occurring phenomenon. The remnants of these impediments, such as myths and issues of acceptance still confronting gay males in educations, were further explored. Additionally, historical events and achievements, such as legal, political, individual, and LGBTQ activism since the late 1960s, were explored in order to create an understanding of how conservative institutions such as schools and political institutions have been influenced in order to create space for the possibility of openly gay male leadership. Next, the focus returned to the individuals themselves, which required deeper attention and focus on homonormative identities that confront gay educational leaders in a historical perspective and context. Finally, an analysis of data showed that the gay educational leaders studied within this research have acquired professional and personal experiences with limited homophobia. This has, in turn, placed these openly gay leaders in a fluid and uncharted landscape, allowing them to reap many personal and professional opportunities not afforded to earlier generations of gay males. These opportunities have simultaneously created a landscape wherein openly gay educational leaders face conflicting considerations. Openly gay educational leaders must still consider decisions in a context tempered against both what their institutions will accept and what they as leaders can offer personally and professionally in advancing LGBTQ rights and agendas. This inquiry provided a basis for four recommendations: two for further research and two for practice in the field of education. Two recommendations were offered for further research: (a) exploring the issue of hiring gay male educational leaders from the perspective of the hiring agents and (b) exploring whether or not others within the LGBTQ community, such as lesbians or transgendered individuals, describe similar pathways and experiences. Two recommendations were offered for practice in the field of education: (a) creating opportunities for hiring agents and gay males to have safe and candid conversations about sexuality and (b) creating more formal opportunities for gay males and other LGBTQ educators to be mentored and to network with other LGBTQ leaders who are examples of positive leaders accepted by educational communities.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Chad Michael Prosen
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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