Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Community & Leadership Development

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Community and Leadership Development

First Advisor

Dr. Stacy K. Vincent


Secondary schools in the United States are hostile environments for students in the queer community. Schools in rural communities often pose greater challenges for queer students with less access to affirming and accepting educators. Rural schools often offer school-based agricultural education (SBAE) and the National FFA Organization as opportunities for students. Both programs have been found as unwelcoming environments for underrepresented groups, with little known about the experiences of queer students. To address hostility toward queer youth, schools have implemented Genders and Sexualities Alliances (GSAs) as an opportunity to discuss queer topics and create safe spaces. This qualitative case study sought to share the intersectional lived experiences of students in the FFA and GSA and explain their experiences with school climate, rural communities, and the two youth organizations of interest. Findings depict a hostile school culture for queer students in the school due to a lack of administrative oversight and negative perceptions of the GSA in the school and community. Recommendations from this work include professional development for teachers, staff, administrators, and community members along with revisions to anti-bullying and dress code policies.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)