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Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences

LGBT Student Leaders and Queer Activists: Identities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Identified College Student Leaders and Activists

By Kristen A. Renn, 2007

This qualitative study provided evidence of common patterns of involvement, leadership, and identity among 15 students leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) campus groups. Participants were 7 men, 5 women, and 3 female-to-male transgender students; one first- year, 4 sophomores, 4 juniors, and 6 seniors; and 8 White, 2 Black, one biracial, one international, 2 Latina/o, and one White Jewish students. Within the overall pattern of involvement, an involvement-identity cycle occurred in which increased leadership led to increased public LGBT identity and a merged gender/sexual orientation and leadership identity. Evidence also supported the classification of students into three distinct identities: LGBT Leader, LGBT Activist, and Queer Activist. I present implications for scholars and educators working with LGBT and other students leading in identity-based contexts.

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