Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Margaret Rogers

Abstract

Parent advocates play a key role in creating and promoting a supportive and accepting environment for their LGBTQ children (Bouris et al., 2010; Ryan, 2009). However, a limited number of research studies have investigated the development of parent advocates and allies within the LGBTQ community (Broad, 2011; Munin & Speight, 2010; Saltzberg, 2009; Vernaglia, 1999). Further, these studies have not specifically explored the ways in which individual, family, and community level experiences may influence the development and experiences of parent advocates. The present study utilized an ecological-transactional framework to investigate the advocacy experiences of parents of LGBTQ youth. 12 parent advocates participated in qualitative descriptive interviews focused on the development and experience of parent advocates, as well as the meaning of those experiences at the individual, family, and community level. In the present study, parents described how understanding their child’s identity and the needs of the LGBTQ community influenced their decision to become an advocate. These experiences coupled with community supports, family acceptance, and personal experiences with discrimination, among other factors, appeared to facilitate parent advocacy development. The transactional nature of family, community, and individual experiences provided parents with the support necessary to pursue advocacy-related activities. Parents also highlighted both personal and sociocultural challenges to pursuing advocacy, such as a lack of community resources, negative reactions by others, as well as difficulty navigating the legislative process. Additionally, parents noted meaningful changes at the individual, family, and community level as a result of their advocacy experiences. Overall, the present study builds upon previous research literature and provides new insight in understanding the diverse experiences of parent LGBTQ.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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