Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Queer theory, Lesbians-Identity, Gays-Identity, Bisexuals, Transgender people-Identity, Foster home care-Psychological aspects, Foster children-Care, Foster children-Crimes against, Child welfare, Gay youth, Lesbian youth, LGBTQ youth, Out-of-home care, Dominant discourse, Master narrative, Emancipation narrative, At risk narrative, Intersectionality, Residential treatment


Currently, there is a scarcity of comprehensive research that has addressed the experiences and service needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth who enter public and private out-of-home care settings. However, existing literature has illustrated significant experiences of discrimination and victimization related to the sexual identity, gender identity, and/or gender expression of these youth from both caregivers and peers in public out-of-home care settings. The purpose of this study is to critically examine the impact of dominant discourse or "master narratives" of LGBTQ identity development on the lives of those youth who enter out-of-home care settings. Recent literature has suggested that the identity development of LGBTQ youth in today's culture is shaped and informed by two master narratives: "risk" (or "struggle and success") and "emancipation." In this study, I utilize queer theory—within a framework of postmodernism and social constructionism— to emphasize the sociocultural specificity of dominant discourse and the power of intersecting identities to confound conventional understandings of LGBTQ identity development. Based on a review of the literature, I argue that the dominant discourse of homosexuality as pathology has a profound impact on the lives of many LGBTQ youth who enter out-of-home care settings. Finally, I propose that recognizing the multiplicity of discourse in the lives of these youth creates space for experiences that fall outside of the risk/emancipation binary. Within this space, social workers can create micro and macro interventions that will support and affirm LGBTQ youth who enter out-of-home care.




iii, 131 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 126-131)