First Advisor

Maura Kelly

Date of Publication

Spring 5-13-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology






Bullying in schools -- Prevention, Bullying -- Prevention, Sexual minority students, Sexual minority youth, High school teachers -- United States -- Attitudes, High schools -- United States -- Administration -- Attitudes, High school teachers -- Training of -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 172 pages)


Although in recent years there has been increased attention on bullying prevention and bullying legislation in the United States, there is limited research on the implementation of anti-bullying policies. Moreover, few studies have addressed the use of anti-bullying policies to protect LGBT youth from bullying. The present study seeks to examine the role of anti-bullying policies as a means to protect against bullying based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Qualitative interviews with high school teachers, administrators, and staff members within an urban school district in the United States were conducted to gain insight into how those charged with the task of protecting LGBT youth engage with their school and district policy in efforts to create a supportive environment for their students. In this study, I argue the following: 1) the policy structure, both in the language of the state law and district policy on bullying, created barriers for schools to implement the anti-bullying policy; 2) the barriers created by the policy structure limited teachers' ability to protect LGBT youth from bullying; and 3) despite the evident barriers, teachers found ways to create supportive classroom environments for their students. Results indicate that teachers are not knowledgeable of the contents of their school's anti-bullying policy, and have had limited exposure to the policy through training specific to their school's anti-bullying policy. Similar results occurred when teachers and administrators were questioned about their awareness of trainings specific to the prevention of bullying against LGBT youth, posing significant barriers to effective policy implementation. In addition, interview data suggests that although teachers lack the sufficient support in terms of training on the anti-bullying policy, there were multiple examples of teachers serving as advocates for LGBT youth in both their classrooms and in their schools more broadly. The displays of advocacy by teachers, in addition to the presence of district and school administrator support for LGBT students, serve as an example of how school districts can find ways to implement school policies, address bullying in their schools, and raise awareness for the unique experiences of LGBT youth in terms of bullying.


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

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