This study assessed the attitudes, skills, knowledge, graduate counseling training, and willingness to engage in professional development of Michigan school counselors regarding issues and concerns of students who identify as lesbian, gay, biattractional, transgender, and students who are questioning their attractional orientation (LGBTQ).
A total of 120 Michigan school counselors completed useable surveys either online or a paper-and-pencil version at a Michigan school counseling conference. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the demographic variables age, gender, ethnicity, attractional/sexual orientation, and professional characteristics such as years of school counseling experience, school level, and school location (urban, suburban, rural). One-way ANOVAs were used to determine statistical significance for the previously mentioned independent variables with the dependent variables being the Attitudes, Skills/Experiences, and Knowledge subscales of the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS; Bidell, 2005), and overall rating of graduate school counseling training.
Results indicated: (a) no statistically significant differences regarding attitudes among the independent variables; (b) statistical significance regarding skills/experiences was found only with the collapsed variables for ethnic background and attractional orientation, with White and nonheterosexual participants scoring higher on this subscale; and (c) regarding knowledge, statistical significance was found only with attractional/sexual orientation, with nonheterosexual participants scoring higher on knowledge of LGBTQ issues. Overall, school counselors in this study believed that their graduate school counseling training programs did not adequately prepare them to competently work with attractional minority students. Participants believed they were better prepared to work with gay males and lesbians and less prepared to work with biattractional, transgender, and questioning youth. The 30-39 age group believed themselves to be better prepared than older groups, and the 60 and above age group reported being the least prepared to work with LGBTQ students. Participants indicated they were willing to participate in professional development activities in this area and rated the top three continuing education activities as taking a course, attending an in-service training, and reading professional literature on LGBTQ issues Implications for school counselor education programs and continuing education are presented, and recommendations for future research are offered.