Being and Becoming an Activist: School Counselors who Answer the Call for Social Justice with Regard to LGBTQ++ Students

Open Access
Scarton, Carly Ann
Graduate Program:
Counselor Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 27, 2016
Committee Members:
  • JoLynn Carney, Dissertation Advisor
  • Jolynn Carney, Committee Chair
  • Katie Kostohryz, Committee Member
  • Margaret Ann Lorah, Committee Member
  • Karen Treat Keifer-Boyd, Outside Member
  • Activism
  • School Counseling
  • Arts-based narrative inquiry
  • Social Justice in Counseling
This is a study of the activist identity trajectories and the experiences of four school counselors notably engaged in activism for LGBTQ++ students. Using arts-based narrative inquiry, a series of two interviews were completed with each participant. Three research questions informed this study: a) What is salient in shaping the participants’ activist identities with regard to the LGBTQ++ community?, b) In what ways are school counselors activists for and with LGBTQ++ students?, and c) What motivates and sustains school counselors’ social justice efforts? Data analysis was guided by empirical-phenomenological psychology and the theoretical framework, critical social theory, to present findings in three forms – case synopses crafted from the participant’s interviews in order to contextualize findings, illustrated narratives that highlight commonalities, and a visual collage. The results of this study highlight three commonalities among participant data: a) Identifying with the LGBTQ++ community, b) Pattern of recognizing oppression and working towards change, and c) Education as a form of activism. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.