Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Degree

Master of Science in Counseling

Department

Counseling, Leadership and Special Education

Committee Chair

Angela Anderson

Keywords

LGBT students, school counseling, advocacy, educational environment, school safety, school policy, school curriculum, social bias, bullying

Subject Categories

Counseling

Abstract

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are at a higher risk than their heterosexual and cisgender peers for harassment, depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, and engagement in risky behaviors. In an attempt to combat the marginalization of LGBT students in schools, advocacy organizations and research have provided evidence of the value of an LGBT-inclusive organization or club, LGBT-inclusive harassment and discrimination policies, and LGBT-inclusive curricula, access to resources, and staff trainings. A gap in the literature indicates the need for examining the school counselor's role in advocating for LGBT students, as well as the barriers that may be preventing advocacy. Researchers surveyed 364 school counselors across 14 US states to determine which advocacy strategies were present in their schools, their level of involvement in advocating for those strategies, and the beliefs or barriers present that prevent advocating for those strategies. Analysis of the results revealed inclusive policies to be the most commonly reported advocacy strategy in place, while assisting to establish an LGBT-inclusive student organization was the highest reported level of involvement in advocating for any of the above strategies. Finally, more school counselors reported a lack of education and lack of support than any other barriers to advocating for LGBT students. Based on the findings and current literature, recommendations for practicing school counselors and counselor educators will be discussed.

Copyright

© Lacey Beatrice Berry

Open Access

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