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Proud Research

Student spends break aiming to reduce LGBTQ+ bullying

Members of the LGBTQ+ community often find themselves targets of bullying, particularly in high school and middle school. Sara Barry, ’24, is spending her summer trying to find ways to help.  

“I want to learn what interventions are out there, how we can help students and make sure they are effective in order to move forward in a positive direction when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community,” Barry said.  

She’s doing this through an Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) for Undergraduate Research and Creative Work Summer Grants research project, “A Qualitative Study of In-School Support for LGBTQ+ students.”  

The social work major heard about the ATP program through her academic advisor, Dr. Leslie Sattler.  

“During one of our advising sessions, she told me to think about a topic I might be interested in researching. I had never done research before,” Barry said.  

Despite feeling nervous about her lack of experience, Barry decided to apply.  

“I knew I wanted to do something with kids in schools,” she said, and after learning about the higher numbers of LGBTQ+ students who are bullied, focused on that group.  

Barry is conducting a qualitative study and reaching out to adjustment counselors and school social workers to interview about bullying. 

“Once I complete the interviews, I use a coding process to see what different themes emerge and how they overlap,” she said. “It’s a lot of digging and analyzing.” 

The goal is to use the data to find ways to create stronger support systems. 

“My research is geared toward intervention,” Barry said. “I’m hoping to discover ways to improve school climates for LGBTQ+ students.” 

Barry will present her work at the ATP symposium this fall. She hopes to also submit her project to social work-related conferences. 

Participating in the project has boosted her confidence, not only as a researcher, but also in terms of pursuing her master’s degree in social work.  

“I’d like to eventually work with a public agency, where I can work with children or in a school setting,” Barry said. “The things I have learned from being at BSU and the ATP program have shown me that there are many things you can do in the social work field and now I feel more open to trying anything." 

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