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Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School for Social Work


LGBTQ adolescents, Adolescent mental health, Adolescent help-seeking behavior, Mental health in schools, LGBTQ risk factors


This dissertation is a qualitative exploration of factors associated with help-seeking behaviors in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students in school settings. Students’ knowledge of supportive resources at the school, district and community levels was also assessed. For this study, twenty–nine LGBTQ-identified middle and high school adolescents were recruited from Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs and participated in eleven individual interviews and four focus groups (n=29). Results showed that when these youth reach out for help, they are more likely to seek support from a friend or family member. They are less likely to reach out to school staff members or community-based organizations that are unfamiliar to them. Openness to seeking help from school-site staff increased when they were identified as relatable, non-punitive and visibly supportive. Students demonstrated some knowledge of school-site resources, but lacked knowledge of district level and community resources.


©2019 Nichole C. Wofford Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers on campus. Smith College community members also may access off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other researchers off-campus may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




vii, 223 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 169-182)