Is Authenticity and Integrity Possible for Sexual Minority Athletes? Lesbian Student-Athlete Experiences of U.S. NCAA Division I Sport

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Jamie M. FynesClemson University

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Leslee A. FisherUniversity of Tennessee

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The purpose of this study was to explore the congruence of identity in 10 former U.S. NCAA Division I (DI) lesbian student-athletes using a semistructured personal identity interview guide (adapted from Fisher, 1993) and Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) (Hill, 2012; Hill, Knox, Thompson, Williams, Hess, & Ladany, 2005). Five domains, nineteen categories, and related core ideas were found in the transcribed interviews. The five domains were: (a) stereotypes and perceptions of female athletes; (b) stereotypes and perceptions of lesbians and lesbian athletes; (c) climate for LGBT athletes; (d) negotiating identities; and (e) recommendations for college campuses. The main goal of the current study was to determine whether lesbian athletes felt comfortable being who they are in the context of U.S. DI sport. Recommendations for how applied sport psychology consultants, coaches, and administrators, all of whom play an important role in athletes’ collegiate sport experience, could change the structure of U.S. universities to help lesbian student-athletes become more comfortable are given.

Fynes is with the Dept. of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. Fisher is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Recreation, & Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Address author correspondence to Jamie M. Fynes at jfynes@clemson.edu.
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