An Examination of Homophobia and Social Work Practice Among a Sample of School Social Workers
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An Examination of Homophobia and Social Work Practice Among a Sample of School Social Workers Milka Ramirez, Ph.D., MSW Jane Addams College of Social Work University of Illinois at Chicago (2012) Dissertation Chairperson: Patricia O’Brien, Ph.D., MSW Scant empirical evidence exists that examines school social workers’ attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and engagement with gay affirmative practice. This cross-sectional exploratory, descriptive study surveyed 283 school social workers across 42 states in the United States. Participants were recruited from two national school social work organizations, and their affiliates. The study aimed at examining the relationship between the degree of homophobia among school social workers and the extent that school social workers engage in gay affirmative practice, as well as how the perceived school climate moderated the relationship between these two variables. Results from this study suggest that school social workers reported nonhomophobic views and high engagement with gay affirmative practice. Results from bivariate analysis indicate that school social workers who reported more contact with LGBT individuals, more education in their master’s education program focused on LGBT populations, more self-directed learning about LGBT populations, as well as more supervision or consultation in the workplace about LGBT populations also reported nonhomophobic views and high engagement with gay affirmative practice. Conversely, school social workers that reported high scores of religiosity and more frequent attendance of religious services reported lower favorable views toward LGBT populations and low engagement with gay affirmative practice. Results from multiple regression analysis indicate that homophobia, accounted for over 50% of the variance found in gay affirmative practice. Results from multiple regression with interaction analysis imply that school climate may potentially moderate the relationship between homophobia and gay affirmative practice. However, stronger empirical support for the interrelatedness among homophobia, gay affirmative practice and school climate is needed. Content analysis of open ended questions supports that school social workers adhere to at least two tenets of gay affirmative practice (i) intellectual capacity for gay affirmative practice and (ii) creating a safe and affirming space for LGBT students in schools. Content analysis of open ended questions provides information about the support and obstacles faced by school social workers’ who address school climate for LGBT students. Implications for social work research, education, practice, policy development, theory and social justice are discussed.
School Social Work
Gay Affirmative Practice