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Queer Perspectives on Mentorship in Higher Education: A Phenomenological Study

Anthony T Fucci, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This qualitative study explored the way in which LGBTQ+ college students experienced mentorship. Despite improvements in LGBTQ+ rights over the last 50+ years, recent scholarship has shown that queer students still face unique challenges, including discrimination and harassment based on their queer identity. Mentorship has been found to be an effective resource for assisting marginalized student populations transition successfully into college. The purpose of this study was to investigate how LGBTQ+ students experienced mentorship in order to better understand how these relationships may (or may not) contribute to their experience on college campuses.A phenomenological research design and queer theory conceptual framework was utilized in order to gain insight into how mentorship was conceptualized by queer university students. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 LGBTQ+ college students from institutions across the U.S. Three primary main themes were identified: seeking out mentorship, screening potential mentors, and environments of queer mentorship.This study found that participants sought out mentorship experiences for a variety of social and academic purposes that may or may not have related specifically to their LGBTQ+ identity. Regardless of their goals for engaging in a mentorship relationship, participants’ queer identity influenced their pool of potential mentors. Participants actively engaged in behaviors to screen for safe and accepting candidates that could serve as mentors. Lastly, participants identified characteristics of places (including physical places but also virtual and metaphorical) that were conducive to LGBTQ+ students forming mentorship relationships. In some instances, participants discussed how certain environments themselves acted as an informal mentor, opening the door for a broader understanding of how mentorship is conceptualized. The results point to ways in which mentorship experiences can be fostered and improved within university settings.

Subject Area

Education|Higher education|LGBTQ studies

Recommended Citation

Fucci, Anthony T, "Queer Perspectives on Mentorship in Higher Education: A Phenomenological Study" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30812707.