Quaring HBCUs: A case study investigating and theorizing queer and trans* student inclusion at two historically Black colleges and universities

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Johnson , Jarrel Tyrone
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Reason , Robert D
Burt , Brian A
Doran , Erin
Oberhauser , Ann M
Naseem Rodríguez, Noreen
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Historically Black colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been lauded for their ability to promote welcoming and inclusive campuses for Black students. However, recent research has demonstrated the need for HBCUs to expand their campus environments to include Black queer and trans* students whose sexual and gender identities often place them on the margins of these institutions. A limited amount of scholarship focused on the collegiate experiences of Black queer students attending HBCUs often centers the voices of students with little regard to the role administrators play in shaping inclusive institutional practices and policies. Empirical research investigating the role administrators must assume in shaping queer and trans* student inclusion is missing from the body of literature. Thus, the purpose of this multiple qualitative case study was to investigate and theorize how two HBCUs located in the Southern region of the United States sought to develop and implement queer and trans* student inclusion initiatives on their respective campuses. Drawing from organizational climate and change theories in higher education as well as a quare theory framework, this research inquiry examined how administrators worked across multiple institutional and external structures and developed and implemented programs that centered the intersectional identities of queer and trans* students. Additionally, this study sought to uncover the expectations Black queer students held of their campus administrators and other institutional members engaged in expanding and advancing queer and trans* student inclusion efforts. Lastly, this research study discussed the perceptions the Black queer students held regarding their institutions’ response to queer and trans* student inclusion. As a result of the data collected in this study, a reconceptualized Model for Transformational Inclusion (MTI at HBCUs) was presented. MTI at HBCUs describes the persons, institutional actions, and inclusive initiatives needed to provide inclusive campuses for queer and trans* students. At the conclusion of this study, implications for future research, theory, and practice are discussed.