Date of Award

Fall 12-21-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Dr. Phyllis Solomon

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Hillier

Abstract

ABSTRACT

AWARENESS IS NOT ENOUGH: AN EXAMINATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER AND SCHOOL COUNSELOR CULTURAL COMPETENCY AND PRACTICE BEHAVIOR IN

WORKING WITH LGB YOUTH

Kerryann Spaulding Silvestri, MSW, LSW

Phyllis Solomon, PhD

Objective: Despite increasing acceptance of individuals who identify within sexual and/or gender minority, troubling data shows that depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts, bullying victimization, and mood disorders are more common among LGBTQ youth population than heterosexual youth. However, Human Rights Coalition LGBTQ Youth Report noted that youth do not feel school counselors and social workers are trained or equipped to meet their needs regarding their sexual/gender identity. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which school counselor /social worker cultural competency, including attitudes toward and beliefs, knowledge, and skills regarding LGB youth, impact practice behavior when working with LGB youth. This study was to expand upon limited existing research related to school counselor/ social worker competency and its potential impact on practice behavior.

Methods: With a sample of 313 professionals employed as school social workers or school counselors with grades K-12, this cross-sectional study used an online anonymous survey delivered on Qualtrics platform and included the Sexual Orientation Cultural Competency Scale (Bidell, 2005), Queer Youth Cultural Competency Scale (Gandy-Guedes, 2018), Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale- Short Form C (Reynolds, 1982) and Gay Affirmative Practice Scale (Crisp, 2002). Multiple regression analysis was used to test hypothesis.

Results: Most respondents had a high Queer Youth Cultural Competency (QYCC) score and a high Sexual Orientation Cultural Competency Score (SOCCS), with the highest scores on SOCCS subscale of Awareness, with lower scores on subscales of Knowledge and Skills. Most respondents had a high Gay Affirmative Practice (GAP) score. Overall, study findings support the hypothesis that, among school counselors and school social workers, a greater degree of cultural competence, including positive attitudes and beliefs toward, as well as increased knowledge about and skills working with LGB youth, is positively associated with more affirming practice behaviors when working with LGB youth.

Conclusion: Based on increased “outness” and a rise in the number of individuals and families pursuing assistance regarding topics related to sexual orientation, the ongoing need to examine the relationship between cultural competency and practice behavior in school counseling professionals is supported. Overall, while respondents reported high awareness regarding work with lesbian, gay and bisexual students, they also indicated a lack of skills and knowledge when working with LGB youth and a desire for more education and professional development in this area.

Available for download on Thursday, January 06, 2022

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