Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Cheryl D. Ching

Second Advisor

Katalin Szelenyi

Third Advisor

Alyssa Rockenbach


The importance of spirituality in the lives and identities of LGBTQ students is sufficiently documented in extant scholarship to encourage campus leaders to consider spiritual support in their efforts to improve campus climate (Birch, 2011; Gold & Stewart, 2011; Love et al., 2005; Means et al., 2016; Pryor et al., 2017), but there is minimal research to gauge whether, where, and how this consideration is being enacted. Even the Campus Pride Index, the nation’s premier resource for ranking the LGBTQ-friendliness of colleges and universities, does not consider support for spirituality in their campus assessment criteria. The purpose of this study was to explore whether and how a university that is known to be LGBTQ-friendly (according to the Campus Pride Index) supports a campus environment that fosters LGBTQ spirituality. Using an embedded single-case study research design, this study collected data from documents, physical artifacts, observations, archival records, and interviews with six LGBTQ students and five staff at one university. The conceptual framework provided an analytical tool to examine structural components of this institution’s campus spiritual climate and how LGBTQ students and staff experience those components. Data analysis offered insight into how one university provided resources, programs, and services to nurture LGBTQ spirituality. From my analysis, I developed three themes: 1) Closeted Spirituality, 2) Blind Spots, and 3) Pockets of Support: Places and People. Findings reinforced the importance of spirituality in the lives of LGBTQ college students and evidenced the expansive and nuanced ways LGBTQ students experience spirituality. The study concludes with a discussion of how this research contributes to extant literature, lessons that may be useful for universities that seek to improve the ways they foster LGBTQ spirituality, and implications for policy, practice, and future research.


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