School Counselors as Allies to LBGTIQ youth and families

As a school counselor educator, I've focused on two lines of scholarship--transforming the school counseling profession with school counseling program interventions to help close achievement and opportunity gaps and supporting the needs of LBGTQIA students and families. One of the great things about being a faculty member is having the time to pursue not only research and scholarship but to work with our graduate students and professional colleagues in school counseling to create the next generation of culturally competent school counselors and educators.

Every summer at Lehman I have the chance to teach Sexuality Counseling for school counselors. It's a chance to bring in guest speakers from various places around the city focused on empowering school counselors to have the awareness, knowledge, and skills to be effective allies in supporting healthy child and adolescent sexual development. It would be great if every school counselor had the chance to take the course, but we work with whom we can. Our students get the chance to work with guest speakers of various ethnic, racial, family, sexual orientation, and gender identities as a way of immersing them in best practices.

Four years ago, a group of colleagues at the annual Education Trust Transforming School Counseling conference decided it was time to start a separate conference focused on LBGTQIA issues in K-12 schools. This conference, "The National Educator Confernce Focused on LGBTQIA Youth: Supporting Students Saving Lives," debuted three years ago in San Diego sponsored by the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCAL). I've had the honor of keynoting the first two years and the past two years my family and I have presented on LBGTIQ issues for elementary and middle school students and families. You can find a plethora of resources on the website including papers, powerpoints, and multiple educational materials to assist schools in empowering LBGTQIA students and families at:

Last year, I had the chance to connect with Dr. Caitlin Ryan, who wrote the first book on counseling lesbian and gay youth in the 1990s. We just finished a book chapter on how school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers can create affirming environments in schools for LBGT students and families based on the work of the Famiy Acceptance Project. The FAP has the world's only evidence-based research model and assessment tool to stop LBGTIQ youth suicide through affirming work with families--particularly traditional families, religious familiies, families of color, and bilingual families (English, Spanish, Mandarin). Learn more at: .

It's an honor to share the work we do at Lehman on a national scale and at the same time bring the very best of LBGTIQ adocacy and research in school counseling back to campus for our school counseling candidates and their school sites to benefit.

With LBGTIQ youth bullying, suicide, and anti-violence prevention an important topic for not only school counselors and other educators but all citizens, what are you doing as an ally for LBGTIQ youth?

Comments for School Counselors as Allies to LBGTIQ youth and families

Name: Beth Ardila
Time: Sunday, October 28, 2012

I am a senior Social Work student, anticipating a future in School School Work with an emphasis on gender roles. I recently saw a video of Jazz, who was born male but from the age of two he knew he felt like a girl and always wanted to be one. He/She is now 11 and dresses and acts in the female gender role. I want to help children in the school setting with these issues as well as any other self-esteem conflicts that may arise. Please send me any additional information regarding these topics

Name: Stuart Chen-Hayes
Time: Monday, November 5, 2012

Hey Beth, K-12 students can use all the allies they can get when it comes to nontraditional gender identity/expression and sexual orientation. I have a website with 1200+ resources for school counselors and school counseling programs on academic, career, college access, and personal/social issues including the oppressions of genderism and heterosexism. You can find the genderism resources at: .

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