Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Kendra Garrett

Abstract

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) youth are in need of school support groups given their higher risk for mental health issues, sexual risk taking behaviors, eating disorders, substance use, victimization, and more. The current study examined the use of school support groups with GLBT youth. The researcher gathered qualitative data about GLBT school support groups from the Twin Cities metro in the state of Minnesota.

Data were collected from four school social workers and one teacher, who all have experience facilitating GLBT support groups. The major themes that emerged from this study were risk factors, group effectiveness, sense of community, sense of trust, honesty, and group safety, and personal growth and confidence. Risk factors seen in students identifying as GLBT were greatly discussed in the interviews. Overall, participants felt that support groups for GLBT youth are effective, and that trust, honesty, and group safety helps a group be effective. Additionally, being part of a GLBT support group provides students with a sense of community and helps them grow emotionally, socially, and personally. Therefore, school support professionals should consider implementing GLBT support groups in their schools, and social workers around the nation should advocate for safe school laws. Future studies should strive to examine this topic more extensively with the use of a larger sample from urban and rural communities, as well as student input.

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