Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Kristin Higgins

Committee Member

Erin Kern Popejoy

Second Committee Member

Paul Blisard

Third Committee Member

Danette Horne


Counseling, Higher Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Microaggressions, Representation, Visibility


Established microaggression research highlights the internalized effects of microaggressive experiences. Microaggressions have been linked to PTSD, identity development difficulties, depression, low-self-esteem, anxiety, and relationship difficulties. Research regarding members of the LGBT community suggests LGBT students face adversity in systems of higher education. In fact, existing literature iterates that among marginalized and underrepresented groups, that college climates are least accepting of people who are LGBT. Further research establishes that perceived negative campus climates can affect how well LGBT students do in the academic arena and could affect attrition if not dealt with by administration. Previous studies have highlighted LGBT undergraduate students’ experience of microaggressions across college campuses. In counselor education, there have been three studies done within in the last 30 years involving LGBT graduate students in counselor education programs and only one dealt specifically with microaggressions. There is also little to no research on how intersecting identities may affect LGBT graduate students’ experience of microaggressions. The literature suggests that belonging to more than one oppressed group may compound the impact of LGBT microaggressions.

The purpose of this study was to explore LGBT graduate students’ lived experiences of microaggressions at a Southern university. Eight participants voluntarily participated in this qualitative study. A transcendental phenomenological research approach guided this study. Utilizing phenomenological reduction, themes were identified from individual and group interviews. The identified themes elucidated the experiences of microaggressions on LGBT graduate students and the impact of campus climate on LGBT graduate students as a result of microaggressions. The findings reveal implications for campus-wide microaggression trainings for faculty, staff, and students; a centralized LGBT specific center; more inclusive language in emails and communication from a top down perspective, and more representation and visibility in administration, faculty, and staff. These implementations would improve campus experiences for LGBT graduate students and greatly benefit LGBT students.