To Show or Not to Show: Factors within the School Environment That Influence the Expression of LGBTQ Identities

Rachelle Millers, Cliff Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Prejudice against LGBTQ people during their schooling years can be detrimental due to its long-term consequences. This includes the development of beliefs that the world is unsafe, which can perpetuate mental health struggles later in life. Fostering a school environment where LGBTQ people can express their identity can contribute to greater well-being. This qualitative study drew on interviews with 13 school graduates to examine the environmental factors within Australian schools that influenced LGBTQ students’ expression of their identity. Drawing on Altman’s conceptualization of oppression and liberation, this study found students typically experienced liberation in the form of acceptance and validation within their micro-environment at school. This micro-environment was composed of those close to the student, such as friends, allies, teachers, and other LGBTQ students who provided acceptance and validation, which enabled the student to express their identity regardless of oppression within the broader school environment. Oppression on the other hand originated from the invisibility of LGBTQ identities; the limited representation in curriculum and access to LGBTQ-specific resources and supports; concerns around gendered, gender-neutral, and safe spaces; and limited support from teachers. Based on the findings, implications are drawn to enhance both the micro and macro environment for LGBTQ school students.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024


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