Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Loretta Quigley, EdD

Second Supervisor

David Brown, EdD


Community colleges were created to serve regional communities while removing barriers to education for marginalized populations. Community colleges have thus made public commitments to serve minoritized populations including those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) identities. Despite the fact that community colleges are making public claims of commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, our nation’s LGBTQ+ population is being left out. The purpose of this study was to explore the misalignment between espoused beliefs and practice with respect to support being offered to LGBTQ+ students through the lens of social capital theory as viewed through the chief diversity officer development framework. Knowing there are discrepancies between espoused beliefs and campus practice, this study aimed to evaluate possible impediments from a leadership perspective in preventing community colleges from delivering action items that are in alignment with stated goals of inclusion. Through interviews conducted with community college chief diversity officers, this interpretative phenomenological analysis aimed to provide an understanding of the lived experiences and perceptions of those charged with working with LGBTQ+ students. Several findings emerged from the data. Faculty engagement at various levels is necessary. LGBTQ+ support services including resource centers, LGBTQ+ mental health and career counseling, a chosen name and pronoun policy, and gender-inclusive housing are necessary components to creating a sense of belonging. Executive leadership must be engaged for total campus inclusion. Finally, the chief diversity officer development framework places the chief diversity officer in the best position for success.

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