Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Burkard, Alan

Second Advisor

Edwards, Lisa

Third Advisor

Cook, Jennifer


Conflicts based on race/ethnicity continue to occur today in a wide range of settings. Of particular interest are racial/ethnic conflicts that occur in schools due to the impact they can have on students’ emotional well-being, academic achievement and the overall and racial school climate. Evidence exists that indicates the occurrence of racial/ethnic conflicts in schools but little attention has been specifically given to within-group or intra-racial/ethnic conflicts. Latina/o students are particularly fitting for such an examination given the clear within group diversity that exists within the population. This study sought to gain a better understanding of conflicts based on race/ethnicity among Latina/o students. Specific exploration was made regarding the sources of the conflict, participants’ reactions to them and outcomes. Nine self-identified Latina/o high school students from a large city in California were interviewed regarding their experienced conflicts based on race/ethnicity. Data were analyzed using Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (Hill, Thompson & Williams, 1997). Participants reported conflicts took several forms including verbal, social exclusion and physical. Primary reasons for conflicts included a denial or rejection of participants’ Latina/o identity and differences in values between participants and their peers. Participants reported numerous adverse consequences including experiencing difficult emotions and feeling a need to prove their Latina/o identity or apologize for not being Latina/o enough. Notably, participants also demonstrated perseverance in the face of these conflicts, making positive personal changes, most evident in their report of continued academic success. Overwhelmingly, participants chose not to involve school staff in the conflict incidents. Limitations, practical implications and future research are also discussed.