Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael Raffanti


In Tennessee, a majority of students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) do not feel safe due to bullying and harassment that is targeted toward them by their peers. Schools, such as MTS school (a pseudonym), are not required to specify protection for LGBT students, causing the LGBT bullying to continue without being reported and resulting in higher absences, lower achievement, greater mental health issues, and in some cases, suicidal ideation among LGBT students. Through confidential personal interviews that were transcribed and coded, this case study's purpose was to better understand how MTS adult stakeholders perceive (a) the issue of LGBT based violence, (b) the effectiveness of the school's current bullying policy in protecting LGBT students, and (c) the possibility of implementing a change in the school policy to protect LGBT students. Exploring the barriers to protecting LGBT students was based on the theoretical framework of antibias education in which students gain self-awareness, develop acceptance of human diversity, recognize unfairness in society, and are empowered to act against discrimination. The following four themes emerged: (a) accepting culture, (b) protection of students, (c) need for change, and (d) process for change. These findings have led to the development of a policy recommendation and plan of action that, through antibias education, will specifically protect the LGBT students and include acceptance and tolerance of the LGBT community in the counseling curriculum. The results of this study may create a positive social change by opening up dialogue concerning the effects of LGBT-based bullying on students and exploring opportunities to create a safe school environment for all children.