Rationale for Group Proposal:
As a reflection of societal culture, schools serve as primary units of socialization for children and adolescents. Through their prescribed curriculum, rules and disciplinary actions, schools communicate societal messages to students and the community at large regarding appropriate norms, values and beliefs. Unfortunately, at times, these messages can communicate rejection and intolerance towards certain populations. This is often the case for gay/lesbian/bisexual (hereinafter g/l/b) individuals. Despite the current multicultural counseling trend, the g/l/b population remains unrecognized and ignored by many school counseling professionals.
G/l/b adolescents have the difficult psychological task of identity formulation and consolidation within the confines of a primarily heterosexist or even homophobic school climate. G/l/b individuals often experience feelings of isolation and stigmatization due to their sexual orientation (Nichols, 1999). As a result, g/l/b youth are considered a high-risk group. These youth are more likely to attempt suicide, engage in substance abuse and risky sexual behavior, struggle with depression and/or anxiety, and possess lower self-esteem than their heterosexual peers (Bagley & Temblay, 2000; Slater, 1988). It is of immense importance that school professionals address the issue of homosexuality. This may be done through the establishment of non-discrimination policies, education of students and staff, direct intervention with perpetrators of harassment and discrimination, and most importantly, support for students exploring their sexuality and those targeted for harassment and intimidation.
Review of Literature: Research regarding the availability of counseling services to g/l/b adolescents is limited. Fontaine and Hammond (1996) conducted research in an effort to provide counselors with information regarding sexual identity formation,
References: Association for Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Issues in Counseling. Mission statement. Retrieved November 15, 2004, from http://www.aglbic.org/about/mission.html National Association of School Psychologists. Position statement on sexual minority youth. Retrieved November 15, 2004, from http://www.nasponline.org/information.html Bagley, C. & Tremblay, P. (2000). Elevated rates of suicidal behavior in gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth Cass, V. C. (1984). Homosexual identity formation: testing a theoretical model. Journal of Sex Research, 20, 143-167. Chojnacki, J. & Gelberg, S. (1995). The facilitation of a gay/lesbian/bisexual support-therapy group by heterosexual counselors Fontaine, J. & Hammond, N. (1996). Counseling issues with gay and lesbian adolescents. Adolescence, 31 (124), 817-831. Meyer, I. (2003). Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence Nichols, S. (1999). Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth: understanding diversity and promoting tolerance in schools Slater, B. (1988). Essential issues in working with lesbian and gay male youths. Professional Psychology Research and Practice, 19 (2), 226-235. Sobocinski, M. (1990). Ethical principles in the counseling of gay and lesbian adolescents: issues of autonomy, competence, and confidentiality