Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Leach, Mark M.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adelson, Jill

Committee Member

Adelson, Jill

Committee Member

Kleinman, Brighid

Committee Member

Budge, Stephanie

Author's Keywords

gay; lesbian; microaggression; internalized heterosexism


The present study has built upon previous sexual orientation minority stress research to explore sexual minority Christian college students’ experiences with subtle on-campus discrimination at Christian and secular colleges. Specifically, the roles of various protective and distress factors in relationship to overall psychological distress were examined. Data were gathered by inviting participants to take a one-time online survey through Qualtrics. Links to the survey were distributed through social media, listserves, and contacts with LGBT campus organization leaders. Samples sizes varied based on the method utilized to address missing data (listwise deletion n=134, multiple imputation n=207) and conduct the analyses. Two methods of analysis were used (Structural Equation Modeling in SPSS AMOS 23 and PROCESS in SPSS 22) to more completely explore the conditional effects of school type, social support, and religious and sexual identity integration. These variables were hypothesized to moderate the proposed mediating relationship of internalized heterosexism between the predictor of homonegative microaggression and the outcome variable of psychological distress. In all three moderated mediation models, Christian and sexual orientation identity salience were controlled for.

Results indicated that internalized heterosexism partially mediated the relationship between the predictor of homonegative microaggression and the outcome variable of psychological distress in both methods of analysis. Conditional indirect effects of three moderators (Christian or secular college, social support, and identity integration) were also modeled. The results of both methods of analysis did not support the hypothesis that any of the three moderators were related to the path between homonegative microaggression and internalized heterosexism. Poor to borderline acceptable model fit was observed in all three models when SEM analysis was utilized, warranting cautious interpretation of results. The meaning and limitations of the results of this study and future directions in this area of research are discussed.