Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Elementary Education

First Advisor

Gina L. DeBlase


This qualitative study focused on the use of multiliteracies (reading, writing, viewing, visually representing, talking, and listening) by four low-income African American LBT (lesbian, bisexual, transgender) adolescents in an out-of-school setting. Data collection methods over a three-month period included transcribed field notes, interviews, questionnaires, participants' writer's notebooks, college workbooks and identity facemasks.

The study focused on critical literacy to understand how the girls used multiliteracies to understand the social practices and socially ascribed identities, which construct them as lesbian, bisexual or transgender and to critique this social construction thereby contributing to their ability to reconstruct identities and beliefs that have the potential to lead to human agency.

The girls engaged with a variety of literacy activities during the weekly sessions such as reading, discussion, writing, drawing, and visual artifacts. Through a mulititeracies pedagogy, the girls developed the critical engagement with literacy required for them to be (come) agents in their own lives.

The things learned because of this study are identifying the features that contribute to the effectiveness of out-of-school literacies for African American LBT adolescents while assisting educators and stakeholders in creating strategies and literacy space to support the identity development and growth of African American LBT adolescents in secondary school settings. It is the hope that such work will aid in extending the boundaries of educational spaces, such as schools, for the purposes of promoting democratic reform and social transformation to achieve societal balance.