Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Lisa Platt

Committee Co-Chair

Jeffrey Daniels

Committee Member

James Bartee

Committee Member

Ed Etzel

Committee Member

Monica Leppma


The historical presence of heterosexism in sport has been discussed in numerous publications, with unique considerations for female athletes (Anderson, Magrath, & Bullingham, 2016; Cahn, 1993; Griffin, 1998; Rankin, 1998). Unfortunately, few studies have examined the impact of this climate on female athletes with minoritized sexual identities. Most research pertaining to this population has been qualitative and largely focused on lesbian athletes (Fynes & Fisher, 2016; Stoelting, 2011). Consequently, more generalizable conclusions about queer female athlete experiences has been limited. The present study was an attempt to address this research gap, by assessing the internalized heterosexism, outness, athletic identity, and perceived stress of queer women competing at the college level. Two mediation models were proposed. The first situated internalized heterosexism as a mediator of the relationship between athletic identity and perceived stress. The second situated internalized heterosexism as a mediator between outness and perceived stress. Participants were recruited via online webpages and email advertisement. Only cisgender women over 18, competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and identifying with a minoritized sexual identity were eligible to participate. Athletes were administered a demographic questionnaire, the Revised Internalized Homophobia Scale (IHP-R; Herek, Gillis, & Cogan, 2009), the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS; Brewer & Cornelius, 2001), the Nebraska Outness Inventory (NOS; Meidlinger & Hope, 2014), and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen & Williamson, 1988). Results indicate support for the first mediation model but not for the second. Additional analyses revealed a regression model in which athletic identity, sexual orientation, and religiosity predicted internalized heterosexism. Findings related to demographics offer insight into athletes who may be at greater risk for negative outcomes. Applications and directions for future research are discussed to aid coaches, mental health professionals, and university administrators in better serving queer female athletes.