Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Educating Student Affairs Professionals about Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues: An Evaluation of an Intervention

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Educating Student Affairs Professionals about Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues: An Evaluation of an Intervention

Article excerpt

In an effort to prepare student affairs professionals to effectively address gay, lesbian, and bisexual concerns on their campuses, the American College Personnel Association developed a workshop entitled the "Beyond Tolerance Roadshow." Participants in six workshops reported the awareness, knowledge, and skills they gained and ways in which they intended to use the information.

Homophobia on college campuses is a major concern. Studies involving heterosexual college students indicate widespread hostile attitudes toward homosexuality and gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) individuals (D'Augelli, 1989; D'Augelli & Rose, 1990; Eddy & Forney, 2000; Evans & Rankin, 1998; Rankin, 1998, 2003). LaSalle (1992) reported that faculty and staff, as well as students, hold negative attitudes toward gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. At one large university, 25% of the employees expressed explicitly negative responses in a survey about LGB issues (Eliason, 1996). Reflective of these attitudes, victimization of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people is widespread (Berrill, 1990; Evans & Rankin, 1998). Lesbian and gay students are often the target of violence, verbal abuse, and harassment on college campuses (D'Augelli, 1992; Evans & Rankin, 1998) leading many of these students to evaluate the university climate negatively (Reynolds, 1989).

In a NASPA Forum article (Gay activism, 1991), Kevin Berrill was quoted as advocating that all student affairs stall receive training on gay and lesbian issues in order to educate effectively on these concerns. While Hogan and Rentz (1996) noted that student affairs professionals held less homophobic attitudes than faculty, Talbot (1996) found that students in student affairs preparation programs had less than a general knowledge about gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and rated their skill and comfort levels with regard to gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues as low.

That homophobia and heterosexism are concerns in student affairs was demonstrated in a study of the experiences of gay, lesbian, and bisexual student affairs professionals (Croteau & Lark, 199Sa). Sixty percent of a national sample of GLB professionals reported at least one experience of job-related homophobic discrimination. Croteau and von Destinon (1994) also reported that 42% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual student affairs professionals who disclosed their sexual orientation during job searches experienced discrimination. In addition, Croteau and Lark (19951?) identified many instances of biased student affairs practice.

Several strategies for educating students about gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues have been presented in the literature (for example, Croteau & Kusek, 1992; Croteau & Morgan, 1989; Rudolph, 1989; Schneider & Tremble, 19Ho; Schreier, 1995; Wall, Washington, Kvans, & Papish, 2000); however, none has been directed specifically to student affairs professionals. In addition, Stevenson (1988) was critical of evaluation methods used to assess the impact of sexual orientation educational efforts. Specifically, he stated, "the available evidence does not permit generalization beyond college-level courses or seminars on sexuality and those who choose to participate in them" (p. 508). No evidence is presented in the studies he cited concerning what individuals take away from training workshops or how they intend to use the information they receive.

Geasler, Croteau, Heineman, and Edlund (1995) used a qualitative design to examine student descriptions of their own changes after attending panel presentations by lesbian, gay, and bisexual speakers. This evaluation strategy has great potential for providing valuable information concerning the impact of GLB training workshops on student affairs professionals.

This article describes the "Beyond Tolerance Roadshow," a day-long workshop developed by the American College Personnel Association and delivered on demand around the country to student affairs professionals interested in learning more about issues facing gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals on college campuses. …

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