First Advisor

Karen J. Noordhoff

Date of Publication

Fall 11-12-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Mentoring -- Attitudes, Mentoring -- Psychological aspects, Mentoring -- Social aspects, Gay youth -- Social networks, Intergenerational relations, Sexual minorities -- Identity



Physical Description

1 online resource (xv, 206 pages)


An important need exists to build a baseline understanding of the phenomenon of formal mentoring relationships involving adults and youth from the gay community. During the formative years when gay adolescents navigate through the process of understanding, defining, accepting, and sharing their identity as a sexual minority, they are often faced with high levels of environmental risks, including victimization, stress, and negative social sanctions by others. Formal mentoring has been recommended as a potential strategy to offer unique one-to-one support to gay youth that can help to foster resilience and a range of positive outcomes, including strengthening processes involved in identity development; yet, no previous studies have captured insights about these relationships. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), this study investigated the following research questions: (a) What are the most important characteristics of long-term formal mentoring relationships between gay adults and gay youth from the perspectives of the participants? (b) How, if at all, do mentors and mentees perceive potential benefits and limitations for gay youth participating in long-term formal mentoring relationships with gay adults? (c) How, if at all, do mentors and mentees perceive their mentoring relationship uniquely contributing to sexual-minority identity development in gay youth? After a 2-year search for participants, a purposeful sample of one mentoring dyad was chosen. Semi-structured in-person interviews were conducted with the match at the 17-month and 22-month mark of their relationship. This study contained four assertions based on this study's findings: (a) This long-term mentoring relationship between an adult and a youth from the gay community shared numerous similarities with other high quality mentoring relationships; (b) This mentoring relationship offered insight into how to create individualized and long-term support for sexual-minority identity development in youth; (c) This mentoring relationship represented an important but unrealized type of support that can potentially be used to complement existing peers, internet, and community-based resources for gay youth; and (d) Complexity continues to exist in using language and self-labeling to define, inquire, and provide support to individuals from the gay community--especially youth. Recommendations for programming, policy, and future research are provided.


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