Date of Award

Spring 2018

Call Number

JK1726 .H393 2018

Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Caroline Shanti

Second Advisor

Paula Gerstenblatt

Third Advisor

Jon Bradley


United States, presidential election, presidential campaign, 2016, Donald Trump, high school students, Portland, Maine


The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and subsequent election of Donald Trump led to a contentious period in American politics. Adding to a growing body of literature documenting dramatic increases in bias-related bullying and intimidation in K - 12 schools across the country following the election, this case study offers an in-depth examination of the effects of the substance and tone of the current sociopolitical environment on students at Portland High School. Semi-structured interview questions were posed to students and staff in separate interviews and focus groups. The school principal and one school social worker were interviewed for triangulation. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed to extract themes. Data collected from the researcher's direct observations and secondary data analysis of an anonymous student project on experiences with impartial treatment were also analyzed and organized into similar thematic codes. Findings indicate the 2016 election was a catalyst to increased overt and subtle expressions of racism, sexism, and bias resulting in increased feelings of fear, isolation, and distrust for vulnerable student groups at Portland High School in Portland, Maine.