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ERIC Number: ED517356
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 172
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-4246-6
The Leadership Role of the High School Principal in Providing a Supportive Environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students
Porreca, Kathleen A.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The literature on school leadership and on effective schools has long held that the leadership of the principal is the single most important factor in creating and sustaining the culture of a school; it follows, then, that the leadership of the principal has tremendous potential to increase the safety, comfort, and academic achievement of LGBT students, who are currently at serious risk in schools. Some principals have been specifically recognizing and addressing the needs of LGBT students in their schools. This study examines the leadership of high school principals in creating a supportive school environment for LGBT students. This study employs a qualitative methodology. A sample of seven purposively selected participants were interviewed in person in three sixty-minute sessions by the researcher. One participant was interviewed once, and then had to drop out of the study due to health issues. Results were coded and analyzed. Results were also de-contextualized and recontextualized, yielding rich individual narrative portraits of the participants, in the tradition of narrative inquiry. Limitations of the methodology, the design of this particular study, and researcher biases have been identified. The specific actions that these high school principals have taken on behalf of their LGBT students range from assisting individual students with specific home and school situations springing from their sexual orientation and gender expression, to creating or adapting policies that make their schools more welcoming environments for LGBT (such as approving the formation of GSAs supporting the observation of Day of Silence, and abolishing prohibitions on same-sex couples attending school events), to modeling expected behaviors of respect, inclusion, and equity for all students, to being the public face of LGBT advocacy in their schools, districts, and communities. A number of factors have led the participants to take the actions they have. These include a personal values code based on the concept of social justice administration, concern for student safety, an adherence to laws governing schools, a desire to create an atmosphere of caring for all students within their schools, and either positive or neutral life experiences with LGBT people. Supportive principals believe that the role of the principal is a multi-faceted one that requires them to be an academic leader, a politician, a collaborator who shares leadership, a highly visible leader in the school and in the community, and a person who models the behavior they expect to see for their students, staff, parents, and community. They base their decisions upon their core values, the laws and policies in place in their schools, communities, and state, and on data. A variety of life experiences and teaching career paths have led the participants to place LGBT advocacy on their administrative agendas. None of them reported that they are themselves LGBT. These supportive principals have gotten diverse responses to their advocacy for LGBT students. On the negative side, they have been questioned, criticized, and challenged. Some of them have become public targets, although none of them believes that there has been any deep or long- lasting damage to their careers as a result of their advocacy. On the positive side, all eight of the participants reported receiving thank yous from students, parents, and alumni. They report a sense of pride and accomplishment in doing work that makes a real difference in the lives of their students. They are gratified by the opportunity to live their values. This study has provided some insight into the actions, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and values of a small purposive sample of supportive high school principals. Further study with larger sample populations covering a broader geographic area would enhance understanding of this issue and provide even more insight for future administrators and researchers. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A