SOCIAL WORKERS IN THE United States and Canada have an ethical obligation to be competent in interventions and to promote social justice and empowerment among marginalized and oppressed groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals (Canadian Association of Social Workers [CASW], 2005; National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 1999). Yet, homophobia and heterosexism are well documented among health and human service practitioners (Berkman & Zinberg, 1997; Cochran, Peavy, & Cauce, 2007; Harris, Nightengale, & Owen, 1995; Krieglstein, 2003; Peterson, 1996; Swank & Raiz, 2008). These negative attitudes among social work practitioners have been attributed in part to the lack of LGBT content in professional social work education (Bergh & Crisp, 2004; Longres & Fredriksen, 2000; Morrow & Messinger, 2006).
Although curricula concerning gender, race, and cultural diversity have a foothold in social work education, scholars in either country have observed that discrimination and oppression related to sexual orientation and gender identity are commonly not addressed (Aronson, 1995; CASSW Task Force on Gay/ Lesbian/Bi-Sexual/Transgendered (GLBT) Issues, Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work [CASSW], (1) 2002; CASWE Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Caucus, 2008; Morrow, 1996; O'Neill, 1995; Stainton & Swift, 1996; Woodford & Bella, 2003). Similar concerns have been raised in Great Britain (Logan & Kershaw, 1994; Trotter & Gilchrist, 1996).
As a consequence, many social work students may not have adequate knowledge and skills for competent practice with LGBT populations (Camilleri & Ryan, 2006; Longres & Fredriksen, 2000; Morrow & Messinger, 2006; Logie, Bridge, & Bridge, 2007), although they are becoming increasingly supportive of lesbians and gay men (Brownlee et al., 2005; Logie et al., 2007). One study found that nearly half of a sample of graduate students perceived insufficient training in their professional degree programs and reported moderate levels of competence to serve LGBT individuals and their families (Logie et al., 2007). Another concern identified in this literature is that the heterosexist bias of social work theory, literature, and teaching often goes unchallenged because heterosexuality remains the reference point for all other sexualities (Johnston, 2002; Logan & Kershaw, 1994; Van Voorhis & Wagner, 2002).
Current social work education accreditation policies and standards in the United States and in Canada mandate the inclusion of content and curriculum related to diversity (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE], 2008; CASSW, 2007a, 2007b). The accreditation policies within each country explicitly identify sexual orientation as a dimension of diversity; furthermore, the CSWE standards also explicate gender identity and expression. Both accrediting bodies direct schools to prioritize diversity in other ways, such as through field opportunities, faculty composition, and the consideration of candidates' experience and expertise in regard to diversity in hiring decisions for faculty positions. Within both countries much support exists on a policy level for the inclusion of curriculum and provision of field education opportunities related to the LGBT community. Although these policy mandates are important, support among social work faculty is essential because they are charged with achieving curricular objectives.
This article reports the results of cross-sectional surveys of U.S. and Anglophone Canadian MSW social work faculty and their support of content on LGBT populations and related types of oppression. This research extends earlier work conducted in 1992 in the United States about faculty support for content on diverse populations and types of oppression, including content addressing gay men, lesbians, homophobia, and heterosexism (Gutierrez, Fredriksen, & Soifer, 1999). Similar research has not occurred in Canada. This current study addresses this gap and enables us to explore the impact of the social attitudes of faculty, the availability of LGBT curriculum resources, and the differences between the perceptions of social work faculty in both countries. Such an exploration is important given differences between each country's sociopolitical context (Thomas & Torrey, 2008), especially in regard to LGBT rights and policies. The current study also explores faculty views related to content on transgender individuals and transphobia--a population and form of oppression that until recently have been overlooked by social work education.
In this article we address the following research questions:
1. To what extent do social work faculty in either country support the inclusion of content on LGBT populations and the concomitant types of oppression experienced?
2. What are the social attitudes of social work faculty in the United States and Canada as they relate to LGBT people and issues?
3. To what extent do faculty have LGBT curriculum resources available to them?
4. What factors predict faculty support for such content among U.S. and Canadian faculty?
This research is part of a larger study that addresses faculty support for inclusion of multicultural content in graduate social work education in the United States and English-speaking Canada. Data were obtained from Web-based surveys of MSW-teaching faculty in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Anglophone schools in Canada. The U.S. sampling frame was constructed from lists of faculty with e-mail addresses available on accredited school websites (N=2,691). In spring 2006, 400 faculty were randomly selected to receive the survey. Fifty-one individuals were removed from the sample when they responded to an initial e-mail message that they were not eligible for the survey (e.g., they were retired, no longer teaching). From the final listing of 349 eligible faculty selected in the United States, we achieved a 50% response rate (n=175). The Canadian sampling frame was created of faculty with e-mail addresses available on the websites of accredited English-speaking schools in Canada (N=236). In summer 2006, all Canadian faculty with available e-mail addresses were invited to participate to obtain a sample size similar to the U.S. sample. We obtained a 64% response rate (n=152). Combining the U.S. and Canadian samples, we obtained an overall sample of 327.
The surveys were conducted using professional online survey software (surveymonkey.com). Procedures for survey distribution followed Dillman's (2007) "tailored design" method for Internet surveys and Web-based survey technology to allow for anonymous data collection and automatic data entry in a secure independent website. Initially, we sent an e-mail message to potential respondents explaining that they would be receiving an invitation to participate in a research project in one week. One week later, we followed-up with an e-mail message inviting them to participate with a secure individualized Web link connecting them directly to the online survey. All potential respondents were sent three additional e-mail messages reminding them to complete the survey if they had not done so.
The survey included questions concerning support for content on LGBT populations and concomitant types of oppression, faculty attitudes regarding LGBT people and issues, the availability of LGBT curriculum resources and the willingness to use them, and program and respondent characteristics.
Support of LGBT content. Support of LGBT content was assessed by faculty beliefs about the importance of content on LGBT populations and associated types of oppression. Specifically, we used four items in the following content areas: gay, lesbian, and bisexual people; transgender-identified …