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A multicultural organization development examination of school -based change strategies to address the needs of gay youth

Mathew Lawrence Ouellett, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

Today, increasingly attention has turned to the impact that school experiences have on gay youth. However, research to date has focused disproportionately on crisis intervention strategies or on meeting individually based needs rather than on the school setting. This study contributes an organization-wide examination of one public school district's efforts to address the needs of gay youth at the high school level. This study examines the role of this public school district Safe Schools Committee and their participation in the Massachusetts Department of Education Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Youth and assesses the impact these efforts have had on the overall school setting in relation to gay youth issues.^ Two social justice change models provide the theoretical foundation for this study: multicultural education and multicultural organization development. The data for this study were gathered and analyzed using traditional qualitative research methods. Students, educators, parents, administrators, community members, and consultants at the statewide level were asked to describe their perceptions of change in the high school. The four recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of Education Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students, the Stages of Multicultural Awareness model, and the Continuum of School Change Strategies provided useful perspectives in understanding how change initiatives impacted this school setting.^ Factors important to the success of this school district's change initiatives were identified. The importance of prior experiences in creating a state of organizational readiness for change, the role of the Safe Schools Committee as a subsystem for change in the organization, and the importance of collaborative relationships across the organization, with community stakeholders, and with statewide resources and experts emerged as significant. Conclusions drawn from this study indicate that a systemic perspective can be critical in supporting school-based change efforts to meet the needs of gay youth and that addressing the needs of gay youth in school settings can make important contributions to increased multicultural awareness and organization development. Organization factors and behaviors of members of the Safe Schools Committee identified as particularly important to the success of these efforts are also presented. ^

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Ouellett, Mathew Lawrence, "A multicultural organization development examination of school -based change strategies to address the needs of gay youth" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9841907.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI9841907

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