An exploration of the lesbian label among health and kinesiology department academicians
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The majority of research investigations into the meaning and implications of the lesbian label within the sport context have primarily focused on coaches, athletes, and physical education teachers. Generally overlooked, however, has been the area of college and university health and kinesiology academia (i.e., sport-related curricula). The purpose of this study was to extend this line of inquiry to this setting within the context of sport. By doing so, investigating the lesbian label, as well as seeking to identify its presence, impact, and potential consequences as they relate to health and kinesiology department members, may contribute to the understanding of why a lesbian stigma persists within the multifaceted context of sport. Further, an additional purpose of this inquiry was to identify whether the use of identity management strategies, and their potential negative consequences, were used in relation to the lesbian label. The lesbian label was investigated through the voices of health and kinesiology department academicians. Through their words it was communicated that not only was the lesbian label and an associated stigma present within their respective departments, but the meaning of lesbianism within sport-related curricula was somewhat reminiscent of the meaning in other sport contexts. Thus, to some extent, the lesbian stigma can be extrapolated from sport to sport-related curricula. While complex, the meaning of lesbianism was intertwined with gender norms, religious beliefs, politics, personal beliefs, interpersonal relationships, societal assumptions, perceptions of powerlessness, and a necessity for self-protection. This was predominantly the case related to a female faculty members’ possession of certain physical characteristics, her physical presentation and attire, relationship status, and proximity to departmental physical activity courses that are regarded as more masculine (e.g., weight training, racquetball, basketball, etc.), in particular. Finally, whether merely acknowledged as being present or advocating for change with regard to perceptions of inequality and injustice, cognitive and emotional resources were allocated to this issue in a variety of ways. Implications of this exploration and its findings are presented and further inquiry encouraged.
Sartore, Melanie L. (2007). An exploration of the lesbian label among health and kinesiology department academicians. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from