Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Linda Webster

First Committee Member

Christina Rusk

Second Committee Member

Brittany Auernig


Educators and school staff often overlook students with intellectual disabilities and students who are LGBTQ+ within public schools. They recognize even less students who identify in both these areas. The purpose of this study is to add to a small pool of research about how to best support students with intellectual disabilities who are gender nonconforming. A review of literature found a gap in understanding the experiences of students with intellectual disabilities who are gender nonconforming. This study uses a qualitative research design and intersectionality as a theoretical framework. The researcher completed interview with four special education staff using open-ended questions to learn how they have observed ways schools have supported students with intellectual disabilities who are gender nonconforming. The researcher categorized responses into the following themes: gender expression, relationships, acceptance and representation, resources for students, training for educators, and policy. The researcher found through the experience, knowledge, and perspectives of these four special education staff that students can freely express their gender identity in school and have mostly positive relationships with their peers and school staff. Special education and school staff generally accept students with these dual identifiers in schools, but rarely represent them in curriculum. Schools support students through wellness centers and positive language. Educators are in need of training on existing policy and procedure and ways to better include and represent students with intellectual disabilities who are gender nonconforming in their classrooms.



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