Gay and lesbian adolescents: the role of school counsellors

Finlay, Cheryl (1998) Gay and lesbian adolescents: the role of school counsellors. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

As media personalities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. Lang, and Elton John openly "come out," or disclose their sexual orientation, people are generally becoming more aware of homosexuality (Handy, 1997). Within the school system gay and lesbian adolescents are more willing than ever before to be open about their sexual orientation. However, these students face an array of problems stemming from such difficulties as lack of family and peer support, resources, and positive role models (Shortall 1998). What follows is a series of three papers that attempt to inform school counsellors, and others working within the school system, about homosexuality and the issues that adolescent homosexuals must confront. -- Paper one describes the historical basis underlying the current views held about homosexuality. Understanding the historical development of homosexual identity helps us to recognize why mainstream society reacts as it does to homosexuals and homosexual behaviour. These reactions reflect the attitudes that most North Americans hold towards homosexuality. The impact that these attitudes have upon homosexual adolescents can be devastating, as the manifestation of internal and external homophobia can be grave. By being knowledgeable about the current attitudes towards homosexuality and how these views are expressed, counsellors and other professionals within the school system, may be more effective in working with gay and lesbian students and the issues they face. -- Home and school environments can be stressful for a homosexual adolescent or for any adolescent still unsure of his or her sexual identity. Paper two concentrates on the issues faced by homosexual students within each of these environments. Regardless whether adolescents are unsure of their sexual identity or if they are open about their homosexuality, the homophobic atmosphere in which they live may result in several developmental problems. The school counsellor can play an important role in the healthy development of adolescent homosexuals as they lack the traditional venues of support and guidance that are available for their heterosexual peers. -- Paper three concentrates on the role a counsellor can play in the school environment to help make it a safer place for both those homosexual students who have declared their sexual orientation, and for those still unsure. Not only will the school counsellor's role includes working with students, but it is crucial for services to be provided to the homosexual adolescent's family, to the other personnel working within the school, and to the general school population. Hopefully, paper three will provide useful material that school counsellors can draw upon when they find themselves working with gay and lesbian adolescents. As well, it is hoped that these papers will bring attention to the importance of this issue within the school system and the need for further knowledge and exploration into adolescent homosexuality.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5099
Item ID: 5099
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Gay teenagers--Counseling of; Counseling in secondary education; Student counselors

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