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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Carey Dimmitt

Second Advisor

Ximena Zúñiga

Third Advisor

Lee Badgett

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Counselor Education | Education Policy | Other Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


In recent years, advocacy has become a centerpiece of the school counseling profession, (American School Counseling Association (ASCA), 2005; Field, 2004). Nevertheless, there exists a dearth of empirical research on school counselor advocacy in general and virtually none as it relates to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students specifically. To begin addressing this gap in the literature, the purpose of this qualitative dissertation study was to examine the experiences of high school counselors in the southeastern United States who have served as advocates for and with LGBT students across identity groups, with a specific focus on race and class. The overarching research questions that informed and provided structure to the qualitative process were aimed at more thoroughly understanding how school counselors define advocacy within the framework of school counseling; how school counselors advocate for and with LGBT students across identity groups; and how school counselors describe factors that facilitate and impede advocacy efforts for and with LGBT students. In order to explore diverse participant experiences and contextual differences, this qualitative study took place at various high schools across the southeastern United States in urban, rural and suburban school settings. Twelve high school counselors were interviewed for this study. Data were collected through twelve one-time semi-structured interviews and a document review. A dialectical approach to data analysis (Galman, 2013), informed by both inductive and deductive reasoning, shaped the coding scheme. Specifically, I relied on open coding, the research questions, the conceptual framework, constant comparative analysis (Glasser, 1965) and previous scholarship to analyze the data. Guided by previous scholarship, a social justice education theoretical lens, the American Counseling Association (ACA) Advocacy Competencies, a pilot study and three overarching research questions, six thematic categories emerged from the data: (1) student advocacy, (2) education as advocacy, (3) systems advocacy, (4) social/political advocacy, (5) advocacy as purpose-driven, and (6) support. Themes are presented and explored as they relate to the various manifestations of school counselor advocacy and the factors that facilitate, motivate and hinder advocacy efforts. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are also discussed.