Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor

Wayne Martino

Abstract

There is a great deal of academic literature reporting homophobic discrimination against queer students in higher education. However, queer international students, who have potentially experienced different cultural constructions and understandings of sexualities based upon their cross cultural international studies, have received little to no attention in academic literature. This is significant considering the increasing number of international students studying in Canadian universities. In light of this, this research examines the self-described experiences of seven queer international students attending one Canadian university in order to investigate their experiences as queer identifying subjects. Drawing on their voices, it also attempts to examine the level of queer acceptance or homophobic discrimination in their Canadian university. The seven students all reported impressions of Canada and their Canadian university as being more accepting of sexual minorities than their home countries. As the study explains, these perceptions ultimately incited a degree of reflexivity in how the participants' came to understand and make sense of their queer identities. These included changes in self-labeling of their sexual identities, self-understanding and perception of their sexuality, expressions and embodiments of their sexuality, being open with their sexuality in different cultural contexts, and finally a more optimistic reframing of their potential futures as queer individuals. These findings draw upon queer, feminist, and gender theory that offer an understanding of the social construction of gender and sexual identities, seeing identities as relational processes that can change in different cultural spaces. In light of these findings, further research into institutional systemic support offered by universities for queer international students is proposed.


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