Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Jack C Watson II

Committee Co-Chair

Edward Etzel

Committee Member

TAnne Hawkins

Committee Member

Dana K Voelker


Despite reports that there has been a positive trend in perception and treatment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals in recent years (Griffin, 2012; Loftus, 2001), sport, in general, is still an uncertain, and sometimes even hostile, environment for LGB athletes (Anderson, 2005; Beylin, 2006; Waldron & Krane, 2005). These concerns may be even more prevalent at the high school level, with student-athletes putting a strong emphasis on attempting to develop an independent and positive social identity through group or team interactions (Grant et al., 2014; Taifel & Turner, 1986). To gain more information on coach understanding and perceptions of the team environment, ten high school head coaches in the United States were interviewed to explore their experiences coaching openly LGB athletes. Qualitative analyses revealed four primary themes associated with coach experiences: team environment dogmas and observations, fundamental beliefs contributing to perceptions of LGB athletes, types and timing of sexual orientation disclosure, and differential LGB athlete characteristics. Future research should examine these primary themes in more detail through direct interviews with LGB athletes, as well as high school coaches in more traditionally masculine sports, such as football, men's basketball, and wrestling. The perspectives of these other populations will assist in developing a more holistic understanding of the high school sport environment for LGB individuals.