By Cassandra McCallum

The School of Education invites you to attend an Ed.D. Dissertation Defense by Russell Becker on “Educationally Affirmed: Exploring Inclusive Practices For LGBTQ+ High School Students.”

Date: March 27, 2023
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: This will be a virtual dissertation defense via Zoom. Those interested in attending should contact stacy_szczesiul@uml.edu to request access to the Zoom link.

Dissertation Chair: Stacy Szczesiul, Ed.D., Associate Dean of Online Education, Accreditation, and Licensure, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences School of Education, Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Dissertation Committee:

  • Phitsamay Uy, Ed.D., Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Christina Whittlesey, Ph.D., PK-12 Fine Arts Coordinator, Chelmsford Public Schools


This case study was built following an examination of a series of disparities regarding LGBTQ+ High School aged students. Data has been collected that highlights the differences in Mental Health, well-being, School Performance and School Belonging which all factor into an overtly negative experience for this population. In order to better understand these disparities, this study was built with the intention of enhancing the knowledge base and eventual application of inclusive teaching practices for two educators that may eventually lead to better outcomes for this population.

The study hypothesized that utilizing a focus group approach with three separate phases would enhance both the knowledgebase and eventual application of inclusive practices for two High School educators. The first phase allowed these educators to parse through localized data that spoke to the LGBTQ+ experience within their institution. The second phase allowed these educators to speak directly with current LGBTQ+ students through the form of a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting in order to gather recommendations about opportunities for inclusion. The third focus group saw these educators apply these recommendations to their individual practices as they created and piloted interventions within their classrooms. Incorporated within the final phase was an individual interview aimed at identifying changes over the duration of the study. The purpose of this study was to better understand how to enhance the ability of two educators to incorporate inclusive LGBTQ+ practices into their classrooms while setting the foundation for additional research and replication of this process. This study informs further improvement and expansion of the adoption of inclusive practices and may be a model for additional schools or individual educators to follow.