Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Carol Kuechler

Abstract

Past research has suggested that GLBT youth are at an increased risk for mental health issues including suicide. The purpose of this study was to examine school social workers’ perspectives of their role in working with GLBT youth through an online survey with school social workers currently working in middle and high schools. Most of the participants reported

sometimes observing homophobic expressions or remarks and rarely observing verbal abuse based on sexual orientation in their school environment. Likewise, participants reported rarely observing physical harassment and never observing physical abuse of students because of their sexual orientation within their school environment. Roles identified by the school social workers included: being an ally, providing counseling, providing referrals, advocating for the implementation of support groups, and being an advocate for GLBT youth. The majority of participants were neutral about their role as facilitators of support groups for GLBT youth, since they identified others such as teachers or students themselves as effective group facilitators. This study has implications for social work practice. School social workers reported their active roles as advocates and service providers as critical ways in which they had a positive impact on the school environment for GLBT youth. In order to further develop our understanding of school social workers’ perspectives in working with GLBT youth future research should include a larger sample size and a wider range of school settings.

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