ISSI team members conduct research on a variety of issues related to sexual identity. We have conducted studies of milestone events in sexual identity development, the experiences of couples in mixed sexual orientation marriages, whether sexual orientation can change, and so on. These studies are often presented at professional conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. Also, because most ISSI core team members are doctoral students in clinical psychology, their dissertations are often completed through ISSI. A brief description is provided for several of the research projects at various stages of development.

Project Sojourn

Mark Yarhouse, Holly Doolin, and Kristina High are conducting a mixed quantitative and qualitative study of sexual minorities on Christian college campuses. We are in the process of conducting and transcribing interviews. 

Pilgrim’s Project

Mark Yarhouse and Holly Doolin are extending Project Sojourn to alumni of Christian colleges and universities. We are in the process of conducting interviews.

Parental Responses

This is a series of studies of the experiences of parents whose adolescent or adult child “comes out” to them. Katie Maslowe completed her dissertation based on interviews with several parents, and Tiffany Erspamer is currently recruiting participants for a second study in this same area.

Mixed Orientation Couples Longitudinal Study

This is a longitudinal study based upon what has been learned from the Resilient Couples study of sexual minorities in heterosexual marriages. We have now collected data through Time 3 and are in the process of analyzing the data and writing up the results. Charity Lane and Holly Doolin are analyzing data on specific measures relevant to their dissertations.

Exodus Project

This is a study of whether sexual orientation can change through involvement in Exodus ministries and whether the attempt to change is harmful. Dr. Yarhouse and Dr. Stanton Jones (Wheaton College) are conducting a longitudinal study of sexual minorities who are attempting such change. Trista Carr is the Research Coordinator for the Time 6 interviews. The findings from Time 6 were presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in August of 2009 and were published in 2011 in Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. See for more details.

Dr. Mark Yarhouse and Dr. Erica Tan are analyzing the qualitative data from the Exodus Project.  Their interest is to look at the sexual identity journeys of those who provided data through Time 6.

Christian College Sexual Minorities Project

This is a line of research related to the dilemma faced by Christian college students who are sexual minorities. Dr. Yarhouse, Dr. Stephen Stratton (Asbury Theological Seminary), Dr. Janet Dean (Asbury College), and Heather Brooke (mercyFirst) developed a questionnaire that asked about (a) milestone events in sexual identity development and (b) the campus climate for sexual minorities who attend Christian colleges. Their paper was published in Journal of Psychology and Theology in 2009. We added items on milestone events in identity development to a larger study of Christian undergraduates that was recently completed and is “in press” with Journal of Psychology and Theology. We are currently planning on a large, longitudinal study of this same population.

Juvenile Justice

This is a study of sexual identity issues and milestone events in identity development among sexual minority adolescents in the juvenile justice system. Dr. Mark Yarhouse and Heidi J. Erickon are working with Dr. Lee Underwood and Darchelle Johnson to conduct this study. We are currently analyzing data and writing up the findings.

SASI Project

Dr. Elisabeth Suarez, Dr. Mark Yarhouse, Heidi J. Erickson, Rob Kay and other members of ISSI are conducting a study of sexual minorities’ sexual identity development and synthesis in light of past experiences of sexual abuse and associated attributions. We are currently analyzing data.

Educational DVD Project

We recently developed an educational DVD on sexual identity from a Christian perspective. For his dissertation Rob Kay is examining the impact of the DVD on attitudes toward sexual identity issues among Christian undergraduates. We are continuing to collect data on this project.

Arab American Sexual Minorities

For her dissertation Mary Zaher is conducting a qualitative study of the experiences of Arab American sexual minorities to get a better understanding of their experiences of milestone events in identity formation and potential challenges in light of multiple identity considerations. She is analyzing her data.