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“That's So Gay!” Discourses of Homophobia in the Small College

Jami Schlicher, Tricia Hofacker
Ohio Northern University
Communication Arts

Two students endeavor to answer the research question, "Is this college's discursive environment welcoming to GLBT students?" by applying ethnographic research methods. As participant-observers, the students are noting conversations, comments and behaviors they participated in or heard. The result of this collection of observations is a description of the informal environment that GLBT students experience at this small, private university. The observations include messages from students, faculty and staff. Some of the people observed will be interviewed. Interviews consist of open-ended questions that elicit feelings of the speaker about the object of their comments. Using narrative analysis approaches, the messages will be sorted and coded for types of responses. The result will be a typology of the messages that comprise the discourse regarding diverse populations at the small college. This descriptive analysis may be useful in identifying components of the social environment at the small college that affect GLBT students' decisions to attend this university, or, after selecting this university, to stay.

ONU Student Research Colloquium