The first-year university experience for sexual minority students: A grounded theory exploration

Edward J. Alessi, Beth Sapiro, Sarilee Kahn, Shelley L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


This exploratory study used grounded theory to understand the role of minority stress on the first-year experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning emerging adults attending a university in the Northeastern part of the United States. Twenty-one lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning sophomores participated in focus groups asking them to reflect on their first-year of university. Themes suggest that participants tackle multiple challenges simultaneously: the developmental task of increased independence and stressors specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning adults such as encountering stigma. Furthermore, participants manifested resilience in response to minority stress. Participants joined campus organizations, expressed pride in their identities, made use of social supports, and sought out safe opportunities to disclose. The discussion concludes with implications for practice and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of LGBT Youth
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017



  • bisexual, and
  • first-year university experience
  • gay
  • grounded theory
  • Lesbian
  • minority stress
  • queer
  • resilience

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