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Making The Grade? Exploring the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency of School Counselors . Dr. Markus P. Bidell Hunter College. Purpose.

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making the grade exploring the sexual orientation counselor competency of school counselors

Making The Grade? Exploring the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency of School Counselors

Dr. Markus P. Bidell

Hunter College

purpose
Purpose
  • Examine the sexual orientation and multicultural counselor competencies of school counseling students through a cross specialization comparison with community agency students
background
Background
  • Developing the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge to work effectively with LGBTQ clients is an ethical imperative (Bidell, 2005; Carroll & Gilroy, 2002)
  • American School Counseling Association Code of Ethics states that professional school counselors, “acquire educational, consultation and training experiences to improve awareness, knowledge, skills and effectiveness in working with diverse populations [regarding] ethnic/racial status …. sexual orientation, [and] gender identity/expression” (ASCA, 2010, p. 5)
crisis in our schools
Crisis in our Schools
  • GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey - Continues to shed a disquieting light on the hostility most LGBTQ youth experience at school (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010)
    • Almost all LGBTQ youth experience some form of harassment
    • Over 60% don’t feel safe at school
    • Middle school can be worse than high school
    • School staff can part of the problem
    • Most LGBTQ fail to report harassment
problem
Problem
  • CONTRARY to popular belief, counselors are in fact human beings, thus prone to being messy and imperfect
  • Counselors can hold prejudicial views as well as lack specific skills and knowledge regarding minority sexual orientation and gender identity issues (Barrett & McWhirter, 2002; Henke, Carlson, & McGeorge, 2009)
  • Students more likely to speak to their teachers (65.9%) versus their school mental health professional (40.9%) (Kosciw et al., 2010)
  • Studying the retrospective experiences of transgender adults as youth, researchers found that few participants reported reaching out to school staff for support (Bidell, Orozco, Strom, & Doherty, 2009)
who i studied
Who I Studied
  • Studied 147 counseling
    • School Counseling (n = 75) or Community/Agency Counseling (n = 89)
  • Characteristics:
    • Most were females (33 male and 114 females)
    • They ranged in age from 22 to 59 (M = 32.13, SD = 8.83)
    • Just less than 40% identified as a member of an ethnic minority group (9.1% African American/Black, 62.8% White/Caucasian, 8.5% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 12.2% Latino/Hispanic, 2.4% Biracial, and 3.0% identifying as other)
    • The majority self-identified as straight/heterosexual (90.2%) and the remaining 9.8% identified as LGBTQ
what i was studying
What I was Studying
  • Recruited 2nd year counseling students from 7 CACREP-accredited counseling programs across the United States
  • Students completed two psychometric assessment scales:
    • Multicultural Counseling Knowledge and Awareness Scale (MCKAS; Ponterotto, Gretchen, Utsey, Rieger, & Austin, 2002)
    • Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS; Bidell, 2005)
what i found
What I Found
  • Examined possible variables that might impact scores on the MCKAS or SOCCS
      • multicultural coursework, age, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and number of LGBTQ friends and acquaintances
  • SOCCS
    • Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) covarying out the effect of reported numbers of LGBTQ friends
  • MCKAS
    • Analysis of variance (ANOVA) since no variables were found to significantly relate
what does this mean
What Does this Mean?
  • School Counselors had significantly lower scores on both the MCKAS and SOCCS
  • Lowest scores were on the SOCCS (Skills Subscale)
  • Limitations of Self-Report Competency Scales
slide11
Fear?

Fear of Social Justice Advocacy

  • Teachers feared tenure, dismissal, or retribution if they supported LGBTQ school organizations (Valenti & Campbell, 2009)
    • Also worried their credibility might be undermined and that others would assume they were LGBTQ or wanted to convert students
slide12
Fear?

Professional school counselors likely share similar fears about addressing LGBTQ issues at their schools

  • Examined 16 school counselors self-identifying as social justice agents (Singh, Urbano, Haston, & McMahon, 2010)
  • Did not explicitly ask about LGBTQ advocacy
  • School counselors acknowledged that being a social justice agent and working on systems change was politicized and at times unpopular within their school
opportunities
Opportunities
  • What can we do?
  • How can we address the findings?
  • Discussion