Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Sexual Minority Advocacy Competence Scale (SCSMACS): Development, Validity, and Reliability

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Sexual Minority Advocacy Competence Scale (SCSMACS): Development, Validity, and Reliability

Article excerpt

The challenges that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students face are widely known (Kosciw, Greytak, Giga, Villenas, & Danischewski, 2016; McCabe, Dragowski, & Rubinson, 2013; Varjas et al., 2008). LGB students experience verbal abuse, physical harassment, assault, and cyberbullying (Kosciw, Greytak, & Diaz, 2009; Kosciw et al., 2016), and parents or guardians of these students may not offer support (Corliss, Goodenow, Nichols, & Austin, 2011). Abuse of LGB students produces disruption in both the student and school system.

In a sample of 10,528 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students between the ages of 13 and 21, 57.6% reported feeling unsafe because of their sexual orientation (Kosciw et al., 2016). More than half of these students had teachers who made homophobic remarks, and the researchers concluded that teachers remain ineffective at managing incidents toward LGBTQ students (Kosciw et al., 2016). Furthermore, roughly two thirds of states do not prohibit bullying based on sexual orientation, and three fourths of states do not prohibit discrimination (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network [GLSEN], n.d.). Thirty-eight states do not require discussion of sexual orientation, and, of 12 states that do, three only share negative information (Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas), further contributing to a lack of understanding and compassion about the experiences of LGB youth (Guttmacher Institute, n.d.).

Without effective advocacy at school for LGB students by teachers and other school stakeholders, including both LGB and non-LGB school counselors (Simons, Hutchison, & Bahr, 2017), these students' academic success remains at risk. LGB students are less likely to consider attending college (Kosciw et al., 2016) and may drop out of school (Bidell, 2014; Corliss et al., 2011). Training school counselors with valid tools to advocate for LGB students, therefore, holds the potential to close an achievement gap. As such, more school counselors may implement best practices in advocating for and with LGB students, and more LGB students may succeed. Best practices include, but are not limited to, offering groups (Bidell, 2011; Goodrich & Luke, 2010), calling for inclusive policies (Biegel, 2010), and teaching inclusive sex education (Simons, Beck, Asplund, Chan, & Byrd, 2018; Stone, 2003).

School Counselor LGB Advocacy

School counselors are ethically mandated to advocate for every student including LGB students (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012). This suggests that greater numbers of LGB students will have their needs met with the assistance of school counselors who implement best practices to advocate for LGB students. Findings, however, indicate that this assistance is lacking (Simons, Kashubeck-West, & Althof, 2014). LGB students continue to report that they face challenges (Kosciw et al., 2016), and levels of school counselor LGB advocacy activity vary (Bidell, 2012; Simons, 2015).

Advocacy Levels

Using a sample of 164 master's-level graduate counseling students (including 75 school counseling students), Bidell (2012) administered the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competence Scale (SOCCS; Bidell, 2005) and the Multicultural Counseling Knowledge and Awareness Scale (MCKAS; Ponterotto, Gretchen, Utsey, Rieger, & Austin, 2002) to assess sexual orientation and multicultural competence among these students. Students pursuing a degree in school counseling had significantly lower MCKAS scores than students pursuing a degree in community counseling, F(1, 162) = 9.89, p = .002, [[eta].sup.2] = .06. Furthermore, the school counseling students' scores were significantly lower on the SOCCS Awareness subscale, F(1, 161) = 10.01, p = .002, [[eta].sup.2] = .10; the SOCCS Skills subscale, F(1, 161) = 10.54, p = .001, [[eta].sup.2] = .19; and the SOCCS Knowledge subscale, F(1, 161) = 12.53, p = .001, [[eta]. …

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