Social Work for Gay
This paper explores social work with the population of people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning community, or LGBT community for short. This paper discusses the population of interests, which includes the history of social work in this field, reasons for serving this population, the role of the social worker, the types of advocacy, and characteristics of agencies that serve this population.
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Also, an interview done by Lise Schiffer, LCSW is mentioned. She discusses her experience as a social worker and her experience with the LGBT community. LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK Social work for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgendered Persons of Youth Population of Interest Section Imagine feeling helpless, alone, and discriminated against because of your sexual orientation. According to a national survey done in 2009 by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, 61. 1% of the LGBTQ youth feel unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation.
Social work with the LGBTQ community has been around for many years. Social movements in the United states began around the 1950s and 60s according to Dr. Bonnie J. Morris of the American Psychological Association (2012). The first major movement occurred in 1965, Dr. Frank Kameny, a well known figure in the gay rights movement, held the first public protest by the LGBTQ community in front of the White House. A year later, the first known gay student organization was founded in New York City at Columbia University (TIME 2012). Issues of risk for the LGBT community can be many things.
Most issues that people of the LGBT community face comes from being abused or bullied for their sexual orientation. Many LGBT youth face mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suffer suicidal thoughts. When it comes to the issue of suicide, 36. 5% of the LGBTQ youth has attempted suicide and of that, 20. 5% of those attempts result in medical care (Berner, Donahue, Hack, Hale, Goodenow, 2002). According to Dr. Harold Koplewicz, child and adolescent psychiatrist, “Gay teens are four times more likely than straight teens to attempt suicide” (2010).
An example of a gay teenager committing suicide is Tyler Clementi. Tyler LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK was a college student at Rutgers University in Washington who committed suicide after learning his roommate used a webcam to record Tyler having relations with another man. The reason for recording the affair was to exploit and intimidate Clementi for being gay. When discussing issues of the LGBTQ community, abuse is the greatest issue of all.
According to the 2009 National survey done by GLSEN, “84. 6% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed, 40. % reported being physically harassed and 18. 8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. ” When coming out to peers or even family about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, most of the LGBT youth are concerned with how they will react. “50% of gay teens experience a negative reaction from their parents and 26% of LGBT youth who come out to their parents are told to leave home” (Ray 2006). Another issue of the LGBTQ community is dealing with mental health issues.
According to Challenges Faced by Homeless Sexual minorities: Comparison of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Homeless Adolescents With Their Heterosexual Counterparts, LGBT youths reported higher levels of depressive symptoms than did heterosexual youths ( Cauce, Cochran, Ginzler, Stewart, 2002). There are many reasons as to why social workers serve the LGBT community. Many of them do not have any resources such as a home, or proper health care. According to an article titled, Family Acceptance Project- Helping
LGBT Youths, in Social Work Today, one the roles of a social worker is to ensure that the LGBTQ youth is able to maintain a healthy relationship with their family after coming out to family. According to Christina Reardon, the LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK author of the article, “ [Studies] show that that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths whose families reject their sexual orientation and gender expression were at higher risk for several health problems as adults” (2009). Another role is to inform the families on how to support the LGBT youth in their time of need.
Social workers work anywhere from a micro level with an individual and/or their families, or at a mezzo level when working with groups such as HIV positive or depressed members of the LGBTQ community. There are many prevention strategies social workers use for the LGBTQ community. There are support groups for those who are discriminated against,, who feel lonely and isolated due to not coming out yet to peers and family, and even those who are HIV positive or have other mental health issues.
There are also seminars on how to protect oneself against getting STDs and HIV/AIDS and on what to do in the case of being abused or discriminated against for being gay or lesbian. There are many advocacy groups in the LGBTQ community. There are advocacy groups for gay rights, marriage, adoption, discrimination, healthcare, and other issues. A popular advocacy organization in the LGBTQ community is GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
Founded 20 years ago, GLSEN’s mission is to “assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression” (2012). They have events such as the day of silence. The day of silence takes place every year on April 20 when students do not speak for an entire day to bring awareness to the harassment and discrimination faced by youths of the LGBTQ LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK community. When it comes to civil rights for the LGBTQ community, the Human Rights Campaign is well known.
Founded in 1980 by advocates on behalf on the LGBTQ community, the mission of the Human Rights Campaign is to “ achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans” (2011). A popular organization for LGBT adoption is the Family Equality Council. Founded on 1979, the Family Equality Council “connects, supports, and represents the one million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents in this country and the two million children they are raising” (2012). Characteristics of the agencies that serve the LGBTQ community include many things.
For example, the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago offers many things to the LGBTQ community such as counseling, case management, and HIV/AIDS services. They also provide support for those victim of domestic abuse and those how are HIV positive. For younger patients, they have a youth center to help those who are homeless or feel unsafe. Another agency is the Center on Halsted in Chicago. Like Howard Brown they also offer HIV testing and support for those who tested positive. Programs offered for the youth includes after school programming and counseling (2012).
Agency visit/social work interview section For this project, I interview a woman named Lise Schiffer, LCSW. I was not able to visit her due to her location however, I was able to email her questions about her profession and her private practice. Lise Schiffer graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and then went LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK to Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City. She has an MSSW in clinical social work. She has been exclusively in private practice for 16 years.
Prior to that, She was the Director of Substance Abuse Services at Counseling Center of Lakeview and then Associate Director of Sarah’s Inn, an Oak Park based domestic violence agency. When asked about her typical work day she stated, “ My typical day is not typical for most social workers. I have a home office, so I don’t have to commute nor deal with the weather. I am self-employed so I don’t have a boss. I have an average of 20 appointments a week doing therapy with individuals and couples, both gay and straight.
I spend a fair amount of time dealing with insurance companies, which are the bane of my existence. That is by far the worst part of my job. ” When asked of what she enjoyed most about her job as a social worker she replied, “One of the things I like most about social work is the great variety of experiences one can have in a career. You can choose to be a clinician, an administrator, a supervisor, a community organizer, etc. and work with a variety of populations and age groups.
Another thing I like is hearing the stories of so many different people and having the privilege of helping them to improve their lives. I also love that social work allows you to work for yourself, if that is your goal. ” When I asked her if she had any advice to a prospective social worker she stated, “ Listen to people on their own terms, not through your own filter. Learn not to take things personally (either when you are idealized or blamed for something) but take personal responsibility for your mistakes and promptly acknowledge them. Understand that the work is a collaboration.
You and your clients are equals. However, the relationship is LGBTQ SOCIAL WORK one sided in that it is all about the client’s interests, not yours. Learn about different theoretical perspectives but don’t adhere rigidly to a particular model. And finally, be yourself. ” When the interview concluded she simply stated, “I will just add that I love my profession and would become a social worker all over again. ” When asked about her agency and what limitations there were, Schiffer stated, “The biggest limitation… has to do with the absurdities of the insurance companies.
When asked for an example she said, “For example, someone with BCBS (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) contacts me for services as I am “in-network” with that company, I go through a labyrinthine process of getting benefit information only to find out that they have farmed out behavioral health services to another company with whom I am NOT in network with (because the panel has been closed in Chicago for 20 years). Even though that company (UBH) does not pay the claim, the insured’s deductible DOUBLES because I am not one of their providers.
” The only criteria Schiffer has is she will not work with anyone who has a history of violence. Reaction Journal When I was first assigned the field of the LGBT community, I was excited. I have always been a supporter of the community, especially since I have 3 family members that are gay and lesbian. However, I never really discussed anything about the LGBTQ community with either of my family members so I was nervous in asking for some assistance. I chose this population because I have always had an interest in the social work involved and my aunt’s ex-girlfriend would tell me some of the stories from the agency she worked.
Chicago. I was excited to interview an actual social worker that had worked with my aunt until he canceled last-minute leaving me having to find another social worker to interview. I had initially chose the Howard Brown Health Center because I had been there once before to visit my aunt’s ex-girlfriend and read information on their programs.
My interview with Lise Schiffer was very interesting and I learned a lot from her. My favorite part of her interview was the advice she gave to a prospective social worker, especially when she said, “Be yourself. I did not like how I was not able to talk to Lise Schiffer more on her job and her private practice. I also did not like how difficult the previous social worker made this for me in having to find another social worker so last-minute. In my opinion, love is love. There is no right and wrong sexual orientation. Despite some of my family members’ opinions, I feel we are not to judge and treat someone bad just because of who they are attracted to or who they decide to date. My values and beliefs intersect with the NASW’s code of ethics.
When I become a social worker, I will pay special attention to the standards of cultural competence and social diversity which states, “Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability” (2012). I will also respect all clients, even those whose beliefs oppose mine.