Date of Award

9-5-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cathy Kaufman, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David M. Piper, D. Ed.

Abstract

This study addresses counselor attitudes as they relate to addressing the needs of homosexual students in the secondary school setting. Homosexual students are often abused and/or neglected in the school setting based as the result of their perceived sexual orientation. The lack of attention provided to this population has cost districts significant money in punitive damage awards over the past ten years or so. While most view the school counselor as the likely staff member to provide intervention for homosexual students, former studies have exposed a hesitation on the part of the school counselor to address issues of sexual orientation combined with a sense of limited competence in dealing with such matters. This study was designed to use as a template a survey questionnaire developed and used in 1991 by Price and Telljohann. A total of 817 secondary school counselors who were members of the American School Counselor Association and who resided in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia were invited to participate. Current results were loosely compared with major results produced by the Price and Telljohann study of 1991, and other subsequent, related studies. Counselor responses were also compared statistically to determine whether or not the following demographic variables significantly impacted counselor views: age; level of counselor education; years of counseling experience; gender; and reported sexual orientation. Few significant differences were found among counselor responses. Counselor competence as it relates to addressing the needs of homosexual students in the secondary school setting appears to be growing. Counselors also appear to be advocates of stronger support for this vulnerable population from schools and the American School Counselor Association. Counselors seem to view their professional roles to include helping homosexual students to deal with their families and their friends. However, counselors rarely initiate discussions of sexual orientation with homosexual students and rarely offer interventions that include the direct involvement of family members, despite having access to various support materials.

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