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ALGBTICAL Official Declaration
Official Position Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression
On September 22nd, 2008 the AGLBICAL executive committee met prior to the general meeting to discuss a number of issues. It was during this time that the committee decided to propose and develop a position statement for AGLBICAL on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The executive committee felt that it would be appropriate
and important for our division to express a firm and solid
commitment of support to equal opportunity and respect
for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender
identity, and gender expression.
The Association of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling of Alabama (AGLBICAL) believes professional counselors are committed to facilitating and promoting the fullest, possible development of each individual. Professional counselors work to reduce the barriers of misinformation, myth, ignorance, hatred, and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. AGLBICAL is committed to equal opportunity and respect for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Many internal and external obstacles exist in society that inhibit individuals from accurately understanding and developing a healthy view of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. AGLBICAL advocates for professional counselors to become accurately informed and aware of the ways systemic barriers, including public and institutional policies and practices, limit the opportunities and infringe upon the rights and privileges of all individuals. Specifically, AGLBICAL is opposed to harm perpetrated against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals through language, stereotypes, myths, misinformation, threat of expulsion from social and institutional structures and other entities, and from beliefs contrary to their identity.
Therefore, AGLBICAL is committed to the inclusion of and respect for individuals of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. AGLBICAL supports the raising of awareness of all individuals regarding issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as well as the increased modeling of inclusive language, advocacy and equal opportunity for all people. AGLBICAL advocates this position in order to lessen if not eliminate individual, social, and institutional behaviors and expectations limiting the full development of human potential in all populations.
Codes of Ethics from the following organizations were used
in the development of this position statement: The
American Counseling Association (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005),
The American School Counselor Association Code of Ethics,
and the American School Counselor Association Position
Statement: Sexual Orientation of Youth (Adopted 1995,
Facts About Sexual Orientation
In November 1998, Focus on the Family sponsored a conference near Columbus, OH, with the goal of encouraging the promotion of “reparative therapy” programs in public schools. Staff from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) attended this event and were concerned about the false and misleading information that had been presented. In December 1998, Kate Frankfurt, GLSEN’s director of advocacy, shared the content of this initiative and discussed the November conference with a number of national education, health, and mental health organizations at a meeting in Washington, DC. These organizations, recognizing the negative implications of this initiative and the potential threat it posed to the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, began meeting regularly to develop a resource to aid school officials in sorting through the information and misinformation on sexual orientation development and on “reparative therapy.”
The first edition of this publication was the result of the work of the groups who participated in those meetings during the spring and summer of 1999 and was published in November 1999. In June 2006, in the wake of a renewed effort that targeted schools for “equal time” for “reparative therapy” and “ex-gay ministries,” the Just the Facts Coalition, with several new members, decided to revise, update, and republish Just the Facts.
The printing and
distribution of this publication are supported by Michael Dively, the
American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association,
the Interfaith Alliance, and the National Education Association.
The current edition is the
result of their efforts. Among the groups that have
participated in this work and have officially endorsed this publication are:
American Academy of
American Association of School Administrators
American Counseling Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Psychological Association
American School Counselor Association
American School Health Association
Interfaith Alliance Foundation
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of Social Workers
National Education Association
School Social Work Association of America
Just the Facts: Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel (PDF Document)
American Psychological Association: Just the Facts (Website)
ALGBTIC Mission Statement
The mission of the Association for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling is to educate mental health service providers about issues confronting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals.
We believe that all individuals should be free to develop their full potential regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that professional counselors must understand the unique ways gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals experience inequality and injustice resulting from discrimination and prejudice.
In a recent column you advised the mother of a girl who had confided that she is gay and wants to come out, that homosexuality has "nothing to do with parenting and everything to do with genetics." You need to retract that statement. If you do not publicly admit your error, I will know you are a mouthpiece for the gay and lesbian crowd.
--Leonard in Lynchburg
If I did not believe with all my heart that what I wrote is true, I wouldn't have put my thoughts on paper. Homosexuality is simply a variant of sexual orientation. Those who claim it is "unnatural" should direct their attention to Dr. Joan Roughgarden, a biologist at Stanford University with a Ph.D. from Harvard, who states that more than 300 vertebrate species have been found to practice homosexuality. (A visit to any zoo might confirm it.) And while one gene may not be responsible for this variant, Italian researcher Andrea Camperio-Ciani of the University of Padua notes that research findings point to there being more than one "gay gene," and that the genetic factors linked to homosexuality in men are also linked to increased fertility in women.
I stand by my reply.
APA Official Position Statement
In 1973 the
American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the official
manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the
American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting the
removal. Both associations urge all mental health professionals to help
dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate
with homosexual orientation.
What Is Sexual Orientation?
Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).
Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).
Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.
What Causes a Person To Have a Particular Sexual Orientation?
There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's sexual orientation; most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality. In summary, it is important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people.
Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?
No, human beings can not choose to be either gay or straight. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.
Can Therapy Change Sexual Orientation?
No. Even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, sometimes pressured by the influence of family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable.
However, not all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who seek assistance from a mental health professional want to change their sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may seek psychological help with the coming out process or for strategies to deal with prejudice, but most go into therapy for the same reasons and life issues that bring straight people to mental health professionals.
What About So-Called "Conversion Therapies"?
Some therapists who undertake so-called conversion therapy report that they have been able to change their clients' sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Close scrutiny of these reports however show several factors that cast doubt on their claims. For example, many of the claims come from organizations with an ideological perspective which condemns homosexuality. Furthermore, their claims are poorly documented. For example, treatment outcome is not followed and reported overtime as would be the standard to test the validity of any mental health intervention.
The American Psychological Association is concerned about such therapies and their potential harm to patients. In 1997, the Association's Council of Representatives passed a resolution reaffirming psychology's opposition to homophobia in treatment and spelling out a client's right to unbiased treatment and self-determination. Any person who enters into therapy to deal with issues of sexual orientation has a right to expect that such therapy would take place in a professionally neutral environment absent of any social bias.
Is Homosexuality a Mental Illness or Emotional Problem?
No. Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals agree that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or an emotional problem. Over 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that homosexuality, in and itself,is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems. Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information. In the past the studies of gay, lesbian and bisexual people involved only those in therapy, thus biasing the resulting conclusions. When researchers examined data about these people who were not in therapy, the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness was quickly found to be untrue.
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association confirmed the importance of the new, better designed research and removed homosexuality from the official manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting the removal. For more than 25 years, both associations have urged all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with homosexual orientation.
Can Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals Be Good Parents?
Yes. Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual and by heterosexual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in four critical areas: their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and popularity with friends. It is also important to realize that a parent's sexual orientation does not dictate his or her children's.
Another myth about homosexuality is the mistaken belief that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to molest children.
Why Do Some Gay Men, Lesbians and Bisexuals Tell People About Their Sexual Orientation?
Because sharing that aspect of themselves with others is important to their mental health. In fact, the process of identity development for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals called "coming out", has been found to be strongly related to psychological adjustment—the more positive the gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity, the better one's mental health and the higher one's self-esteem.
Why Is the "Coming Out" Process Difficult for Some Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People?
For some gay and bisexual people the coming out process is difficult, for others it is not. Often lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel afraid, different, and alone when they first realize that their sexual orientation is different from the community norm. This is particularly true for people becoming aware of their gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation as a child or adolescent, which is not uncommon. And, depending on their families and where they live, they may have to struggle against prejudice and misinformation about homosexuality. Children and adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the deleterious effects of bias and stereotypes. They may also fear being rejected by family, friends, co-workers, and religious institutions. Some gay people have to worry about losing their jobs or being harassed at school if their sexual orientation became well known. Unfortunately, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are at a higher risk for physical assault and violence than are heterosexuals. Studies done in California in the mid 1990s showed that nearly one-fifth of all lesbians who took part in the study and more than one-fourth of all gay men who participated had been the victim of a hate crime based on their sexual orientation. In another California study of approximately 500 young adults, half of all the young men participating in the study admitted to some form of anti-gay aggression from name-calling to physical violence.
What Can Be Done to Overcome the Prejudice and Discrimination the Gay Men, Lesbians, and Bisexuals Experience?
Research has found that the people who have the most positive attitudes toward gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are those who say they know one or more gay, lesbian or bisexual person well—often as a friend or co-worker. For this reason, psychologists believe negative attitudes toward gay people as a group are prejudices that are not grounded in actual experiences but are based on stereotypes and prejudice.
Furthermore, protection against violence and discrimination is very important, just as it is for other minority groups. Some states include violence against an individual on the basis of his or her sexual orientation as a "hate crime" and 10 U.S. states have laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Why is it Important for Society to be Better Educated About Homosexuality?
Educating all people about sexual orientation and homosexuality is likely to diminish anti-gay prejudice. Accurate information about homosexuality is especially important to young people who are first discovering and seeking to understand their sexuality—whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Fears that access to such information will make more people gay have no validity—information about homosexuality does not make someone gay or straight.
Are All Gay and Bisexual Men HIV Infected?
No. This is a commonly
held myth. In reality, the risk of exposure to HIV is related to a
person's behavior, not their sexual orientation. What's important to
remember about HIV/AIDS is it is a preventable disease through the use
of safe sex practices and by not using drugs.
(From American Psychological Association / 2005 / Office of Public Affairs, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242 / Phone: 202-336-5700 / Fax: 202-336-5708)
ASCA Official Position Statement
Position Statement on Sexual
Professional school counselors are committed to facilitating and promoting the fullest possible development of each individual by reducing the barriers of misinformation, myth, ignorance, hatred and discrimination based on sexual orientation. Professional school counselors are in a field committed to human development and must be sensitive to the use of inclusive language and positive modeling. ASCA is committed to equal opportunity and respect for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation.
Identity is determined by a complex mix of nature and nurture. Developmental literature clearly states that sexual orientation is firmly established by age five and much research indicates such establishment occurs even earlier. Many internal and external obstacles exist in school and society that inhibit students from accurately understanding and positively accepting their sexual orientation. Professional school counselors need to become accurately informed and aware of the ways communication limits the opportunities and infringes upon the development of self-acceptance and healthy esteem. Harm is perpetrated against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth through language, stereotypes, myths, misinformation, threat of expulsion from social and institutional structures and other entities and from beliefs contrary to their identity. These youth begin to experience self-identification and the "coming out" process, both essentially cognitive activities, during adolescence. Such identification is not indicative of sexual activity.
The Professional School Counselor’s Role
The professional school counselor uses inclusive and nonpresumptive language with equitable expectations toward individuals, being especially sensitive to those aspects of communication and social structures/institutions providing accurate working models of acceptance of identities and equality. Professional school counselors must be vigilant to the pervasive negative effects of stereotyping individuals into rigid gender roles and sexual identities.
The professional school counselor is sensitive to ways in which attitudes and behavior negatively affect the individual. School counselors are called to provide constructive feedback on the negative use of exclusive, presumptive language and inequitable expectations toward sexual-orientation minorities. The school counselor places emphasis on a person’s behavioral choices and not on his or her identity and uniqueness. Demonstrations of sexual-orientation-minority equity also include fair and accurate representation of sexual identities in visible leadership positions as well as other role positions.
The professional school counselor is committed to the inclusion and affirmation of youths of all sexual orientation. The professional school counselor supports consciousness-raising among school counselors and increased modeling of inclusive language, advocacy and equal opportunity for participation for all. This is done to break through individual, social and institutional behaviors and expectations limiting the development of human potential in all populations.
(From The Professional School Counselor and Sexual Orientation of Youth, Adopted 1995, Revised 2000)
American Counseling Association
Position Statement on Reparative Therapy
The American Counseling Association has adopted a resolution that states that it: "opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation; and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same-gender sexual orientation."
The resolution adopted by American Counseling Association Governing Council, March 1998.
Further, at its 1999 World Conference, ACA adopted a position opposing the promotion of "reparative therapy" as a "cure" for individuals who are homosexual. Action by American Counseling Association Governing Council, April 1999.
ACA Code of Ethics: Highlights of Recent Changes
Emphasis on multiculturalism, diversity issues among major changes
By Michael M. Kocet
Earlier this year, the American Counseling Association Governing Council approved the adoption of the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics. The code is revised approximately every 10 years and provides an opportunity for the counseling profession to examine current practices and issues faced by professionals in a variety of settings.
A central focus of our professional code of ethics is to help guide professional practice with clients, students, supervisees, colleagues and research participants. A code of ethics is designed to protect the well-being of those served by counselors, as well as to advance the work of the profession. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the main changes in the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics. Readers are encouraged to log onto the ACA website at www.counseling.org/ethics to access the revised code. The new code is also being published in this issue of Counseling Today beginning on page 25.
The 2005 ACA Code of Ethics consists of eight main sections broken down into the following areas: The Counseling Relationship; Confidentiality, Privileged Communication and Privacy; Professional Responsibility; Relationships With Other Professionals; Evaluation, Assessment and Interpretation; Supervision, Training and Teaching; Research and Publication; and Resolving Ethical Issues. A new glossary is also provided to help readers understand key counseling terms and how they are defined in the document.
Another feature is a section that outlines the five main purposes of the ACA Code of Ethics: The code enables the association to clarify to current and future members, and to those served by members, the nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by its members.
The code helps support the mission of the association.
The code establishes principles that define ethical behavior and best practices of association members.
The code serves as an ethical guide designed to assist members in constructing a professional course of action that best serves those utilizing counseling services and best promotes the values of the counseling profession.
The code serves as the basis for the processing of ethical complaints and inquiries against members of the association.
Multiculturalism and diversity issues
An important component threaded through the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics is the emphasis on multicultural and diversity issues facing counseling professionals. A new subsection, "A.1.d. Support Network Involvement," is just one example. It states that "Counselors recognize that support networks hold various meanings in the lives of clients and consider enlisting the support, understanding and involvement of others (e.g., religious/spiritual/community leaders, family members, friends) as positive resources, when appropriate, with client consent." This section represents a variance from the 1995 code of ethics, which only addressed the role of family involvement. The 2005 code broadens this section to include any person from the perspective of the client who plays a central role in that client's life.
Another culturally relevant example contained in the 2005 code is "A.10.e. Receiving Gifts," which states: "Counselors understand the challenges of accepting gifts from clients and recognize that in some cultures, small gifts are a token of respect and showing gratitude. When determining whether or not to accept a gift from clients, counselors take into account the therapeutic relationship, the monetary value of the gift, a client's motivation for giving the gift and the counselor's motivation for wanting or declining the gift." A final example of cultural issues affecting the counseling relationship is in the section on diagnosis of mental disorders. "E.5.b. Cultural Sensitivity" states that "Counselors recognize that culture affects the manner in which clients' problems are defined. Clients' socioeconomic and cultural experiences are considered when diagnosing mental disorders."
A paradigm shift is currently taking place within the counseling profession and within other mental health organizations when it comes to traditional views on dual or multiple relationships. Recently, ethics scholars have called attention to the fact that not all dual or multiple relationships should be avoided or viewed as harmful. In fact, some argue that dual/multiple relationships within a counseling context can actually be growth enhancing. To speak to this change, the revised code of ethics contains "A.5.d. Potentially Beneficial Interactions." It states in part, "When a counselor-client nonprofessional interaction with a client or former client may be potentially beneficial to the client or former client, the counselor must document in case records (when feasible) the rationale for such an interaction, the potential benefit and anticipated consequences for the client or former client and other individuals significantly involved with the client or former client."
Counselors should consult the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics for a detailed explanation of this section of the document.
A new addition to the 2005 ethics code is Section A.9, which discusses end-of-life care for terminally ill clients. ACA is one of the few national mental health-related organizations to specifically address end-of-life care in its ethics code. While this section does not endorse or prescribe one single way of approaching this sensitive issue, it does stress the importance of the counselor being competent to work with clients facing end-of-life issues. Counselors handling end-of-life issues with clients should seek supervision and consultation to help clients receive competent care from a wide range of professionals. Counselors should also work toward supporting the client's ability to make informed judgments on end-of-life decisions that foster the client's ability for self-determination.
Use of technology
Section A.12, "Technology-Assisted Services," integrates ACA's 1999 Ethical Standards for Internet Online Counseling and broadens ethical use of technology in research, record-keeping and provision of services to consumers.
Counselor impairment and transfer of clients
More detailed language was added to the section on counselor impairment (SectionC.2.g.), and a new section was added that addresses the importance for all counseling professionals, regardless of setting, to create a plan for the transfer of clients and records to an appropriate colleague in the event of a counselor's incapacitation, death or termination of practice (Section C.2.h.).
Supervision, training and teaching
A number of changes were also made to Section F, which deals with supervision, training and teaching. Counselor educators, those who supervise counseling trainees and counseling students are encouraged to pay particularly close attention to this section devoted to the training and competence of new counseling professionals. Section F deals with such areas as supervisory relationships, potentially beneficial relationships between supervisors and supervisees, endorsement, counselor educators, student welfare and orientation, self-growth experiences, impairment of counseling students and ethical evaluation of students' performances within their academic preparation.
Other noteworthy items found in the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics are related to changes in terminology that have evolved since the last revision of the code. These changes include (but are not limited to) a shift from the 1995 code's use of the word "tests" in Section E to the use of the term "assessment" in 2005. It was determined that "assessment" has a broader, more holistic meaning. In addition, use of the term "research participants" is intended to be more inclusive and less clinically detached than the previous term in use, "research subject." Section E also helps counselors address the appropriate handling of records during the research process and the confidentiality of people involved in research projects. The final section of the code of ethics, Section H, helps practitioners address ethical dilemmas and outlines the appropriate ethical behavior counselors are expected to uphold.
While this article provides a brief and general overview of a few revisions to the ACA Code of Ethics, it is important to take the time to carefully review the entire document and understand both the specific and the broad changes that have evolved between the 1995 and 2005 documents. In the coming months, books and scholarly articles addressing specific sections of the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics will be available. It's important at all stages of professional development to have an ethics library at your disposal should the need arise to consult with the ethics literature. ACA members are strongly encouraged to consult with ethics experts in the field on the impact that the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics will have on counselors' daily work. The 2006 ACA/Canadian Counseling Association Convention in Montreal will have a presidential program addressing the new code, and all are encouraged to attend the various training and continuing education opportunities that will be available.
It is critical to examine the professional code of ethics from a cultural and contextual perspective rather than seeing it simply as a list of dos and don'ts. No code of ethics can prescribe what actions counselors are to take in every situation. Through supervision, consultation and careful personal reflection, the ACA Code of Ethics can be one of many tools at a counselor's disposal when faced with a challenging ethical dilemma. It has been a privilege to serve the counseling profession by helping to create the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics. I want to personally thank all the members of the ACA Code Revision Task Force, as well as the ACA leadership and staff who made it possible to revise this important document that impacts every single member of our association. Should you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact me.
(From Michael M. Kocet, an assistant professor at Bridgewater State College, served as chair of the ACA Code Revision Task Force (2002-05) and is a member of the ACA Ethics Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com)
Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama