Advertisement

Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 23–41 | Cite as

Teachers’ attitudes toward homosexuality and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer community in the United States

  • William J. HallEmail author
  • Grayson K. Rodgers
Article

Abstract

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) students are a substantial minority group within U.S. elementary, middle, and high schools. Many LGBQ students face harassment and discrimination, which can contribute to educational and psychological problems. Teachers play key roles in students’ school experiences, and their attitudes about homosexuality can influence their behavior toward LGBQ students. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of teachers’ positive and negative LGBQ-related attitudes, potential changes in attitudes over time, and demographic and social variables that may be related to teachers’ attitudes. This study uses data from 305 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, collected in waves 2006–2014 of the General Social Survey. Results indicate that teachers’ attitudes toward homosexuality have become more favorable over time; however, many teachers still hold negative attitudes. Just under half of teachers exhibited at least one negative LGBQ-related attitude. Age, political conservativeness, religious attendance, and carryover of religious beliefs were significantly associated with negative LGBQ attitudes. Teachers with a fundamentalist religious orientation tended to have more negative attitudes about homosexuality than teachers with more progressive religious orientations. Negative attitudes were more often found among teachers of color, compared to White teachers, and teachers in the South, Midwest, and Mountain regions tended toward more negative attitudes than teachers in the Northeast and Pacific regions. Teachers have an ethical responsibility to see that all students, regardless of sexual orientation, receive a quality education. Education and training are needed to address problematic attitudes that may negatively affect LGBQ students.

Keywords

Teacher attitudes Homosexuality Sexual orientation Gay Lesbian Bisexual 

Notes

Funding

The first author was supported by the National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Traineeship from the National Institute of Mental Health sponsored by Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Grant Number: T32 MH019117. The second author was supported by the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

References

  1. Andersen, R., & Fetner, T. (2008). Cohort differences in tolerance of homosexuality attitudinal change in Canada and the United States, 1981–2000. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(2), 311–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avery, A., Chase, J., Johansson, L., Litvak, S., Montero, D., & Wydra, M. (2007). America’s changing attitudes toward homosexuality, civil unions, and same-gender marriage: 1977–2004. Social Work, 52(1), 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barth, J., Overby, L. M., & Huffmon, S. H. (2009). Community context, personal contact, and support for an anti—Gay rights referendum. Political Research Quarterly, 62(2), 355–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowen, A. M., & Bourgeois, M. J. (2001). Attitudes toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students: The contribution of pluralistic ignorance, dynamic social impact, and contact theories. Journal of American College Health, 50(2), 91–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton, C. M., Marshal, M. P., & Chisolm, D. J. (2014). School absenteeism and mental health among sexual minority youth and heterosexual youth. Journal of School Psychology, 52(1), 37–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper, B., Cox, D., Lienesch, R., & Jones, R. P. (2016). Beyond same-sex marriage: Attitudes on LGBT nondiscrimination laws and religious exemptions from the 2015 American values Atlas. Retrieved from http://www.prri.org/research/poll-same-sex-gay-marriage-lgbt-nondiscrimination-religious-liberty/.
  7. DeVellis, R. F. (2012). Scale development: Theory and applications (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., & Beach, K. R. (2001). Implicit and explicit attitudes: Examination of the relationship between measures of intergroup bias. In R. Brown & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intergroup processes (pp. 175–197). Malden: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Emert, P. R. (2006). Banning gay books: Protecting kids or censorship? Respect, 5(2), 1–8.Google Scholar
  11. Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, & Harris Interactive. (2012). Playgrounds and prejudice: Elementary school climate in the United States, a survey of students and teachers. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  12. Greenwald, A. G., Poehlman, T. A., Uhlmann, E. L., & Banaji, M. R. (2009). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III. Meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 17–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greytak, E. A., & Kosciw, J. G. (2010). Year one evaluation of the New York City Department of Education” Respect for All” training program. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  14. Greytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Boesen, M. J. (2013). Educating the educator: Creating supportive school personnel through professional development. Journal of School Violence, 12(1), 80–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Diaz, E. M. (2009). Harsh realities: The experiences of transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  16. Haddock, G., & Maio, G. R. (2007). Attitude-behavior consistency. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 60–61). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, W. J. (2018). Sexual orientation. In C. Franklin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social work. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hall, W. J., McDougald, A., & Kresica, A. (2013). School counselors’ education and training, competency, and supportive behaviors concerning gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. Professional School Counseling, 17(1), 130–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harris Interactive, & Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. (2005). From teasing to torment: School climate in America, A survey of students and teachers. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  20. Herbstrith, J. C., Tobin, R. M., Hesson-McInnis, M. S., & Joel Schneider, W. (2013). Preservice teacher attitudes toward gay and lesbian parents. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(3), 183–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1996). “Some of my best friends”: Intergroup contact, concealable stigma, and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(4), 412–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Herek, G. M., & Glunt, E. K. (1993). Interpersonal contact and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men: Results from a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 30(3), 239–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Iraklis, G. (2010). Predictors of Greek students’ attitudes towards lesbians and gay men. Psychology & Sexuality, 1(2), 170–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jennings, T. (2007). Addressing diversity in US teacher preparation programs: A survey of elementary and secondary programs’ priorities and challenges from across the United States of America. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(8), 1258–1271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Palmer, N. A., & Boesen, M. J. (2014). The 2013 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  26. Kraus, S. J. (1995). Attitudes and the prediction of behavior: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(1), 58–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lemm, K. M. (2006). Positive associations among interpersonal contact, motivation, and implicit and explicit attitudes toward gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(2), 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewis, G. B. (2011). The friends and family plan: Contact with gays and support for gay rights. Policy Studies Journal, 39(2), 217–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Little, R. J., & Rubin, D. B. (1987). Statistical analysis with missing data. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Maio, G. R., & Haddock, G. (2015). The psychology of attitudes and attitude change (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  31. Masci, D. (2014). National Congregations Study finds more church acceptance of gays and lesbians. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/25/new-study-finds-a-greater-church-acceptance-of-gays-and-lesbians-2/.
  32. Masci, D., & Lipka, M. (2015). Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  33. McCabe, J., Brewster, K. L., & Tillman, K. H. (2011). Patterns and correlates of same-sex sexual activity among U.S. teenagers and young adults. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 43(3), 142–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCabe, P. C., Rubinson, F., Dragowski, E. A., & Elizalde-Utnick, G. (2013). Behavioral intention of teachers, school psychologists, and counselors to intervene and prevent harassment of LGBTQ youth. Psychology in the Schools, 50(7), 672–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCarthy, J. (2016). Americans’ support for gay marriage remains high, at 61%. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/191645/americans-support-gay-marriage-remains-high.aspx.
  36. McGuire, W. J. (1985). Attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., pp. 233–346). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  37. McGuire, J. K., Anderson, C. R., Toomey, R. B., & Russell, S. T. (2010). School climate for transgender youth: A mixed method investigation of student experiences and school responses. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(10), 1175–1188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Montopoli, B. (2010). Poll: With higher visibility, less disapproval for gays. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-with-higher-visibility-less-disapproval-for-gays/.
  39. Mudrey, R., & Medina-Adams, A. (2006). Attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of pre-service teachers regarding the educational isolation of sexual minority youth. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(4), 63–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. National Education Association. (2016). NEA handbook, 2015–2016. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  41. National Opinion Research Center. (2014). The 2014 general social survey [Data file]. Retrieved from http://gss.norc.org/.
  42. National Opinion Research Center. (2016). General social surveys, 1972–2014: Cumulative codebook. Chicago: Author.Google Scholar
  43. Newport, F. (2011). Religion and party ID strongly linked among whites, not blacks. Retreived from https://news.gallup.com/poll/148361/religion-party-strongly-linked-among-whites-not-blacks.aspx.
  44. Nosek, B. A., Smyth, F. L., Hansen, J. J., Devos, T., Lindner, N. M., Ranganath, K. A., et al. (2007). Pervasiveness and correlates of implicit attitudes and stereotypes. European Review of Social Psychology, 18(1), 36–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. O’Connell, L. M., Atlas, J. G., Saunders, A. L., & Philbrick, R. (2010). Perceptions of rural school staff regarding sexual minority students. Journal of LGBT Youth, 7(4), 293–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ohlander, J., Batalova, J., & Treas, J. (2005). Explaining educational influences on attitudes toward homosexual relations. Social Science Research, 34(4), 781–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Olson, L. R., Cadge, W., & Harrison, J. T. (2006). Religion and public opinion about same-sex marriage. Social Science Quarterly, 87(2), 340–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pearson, J., Muller, C., & Wilkinson, L. (2007). Adolescent same-sex attraction and academic outcomes: The role of school attachment and engagement. Social Problems, 54, 523–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pew Research Center. (2017). Changing attitudes on gay marriage. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/.
  50. Plant, E. A. (2007). Prejudice. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (p. 695). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  51. Poteat, V. P., Mereish, E. H., DiGiovanni, C. D., & Koenig, B. W. (2011). The effects of general and homophobic victimization on adolescents’ psychosocial and educational concerns: The importance of intersecting identities and parent support. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ranganath, K. A., & Nosek, B. A. (2007). Implicit attitudes. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 465–467). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  53. Riggs, A. D., Rosenthal, A. R., & Smith-Bonahue, T. (2011). The impact of a combined cognitive–affective intervention on pre-service teachers’ attitudes, knowledge, and anticipated professional behaviors regarding homosexuality and gay and lesbian issues. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 201–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rosenberg, M. J., & Hovland, C. I. (1960). Cognitive, affective and behavioral components of attitudes.”. In M. J. Rosenberg & C. I. Hovland (Eds.), Attitude organization and change: An analysis of consistency among attitude components. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rostosky, S. S., Owens, G. P., Zimmerman, R. S., & Riggle, E. D. (2003). Associations among sexual attraction status, school belonging, and alcohol and marijuana use in rural high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 741–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Russell, S. T., Seif, H., & Truong, N. L. (2001). School outcomes of sexual minority youth in the United States: Evidence from a national study. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Saad, L. (2012). U.S. acceptance of gay/lesbian relations is the new normal. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/154634/acceptance-gay-lesbian-relations-new-normal.aspx.
  58. Sakalli, N. (2002). Application of the attribution-value model of prejudice to homosexuality. The Journal of Social Psychology, 142(2), 264–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schwartz, J. (2010). Investigating differences in public support for gay rights issues. Journal of Homosexuality, 57(6), 748–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sherkat, D. E., Powell-Williams, M., Maddox, G., & De Vries, K. M. (2011). Religion, politics, and support for same-sex marriage in the United States, 1988–2008. Social Science Research, 40(1), 167–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Whitehead, A. L. (2010). Sacred rites and civil rights: religion’s effect on attitudes toward same-sex unions and the perceived cause of homosexuality. Social Science Quarterly, 91(1), 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Whitley, B. E., Jr. (2009). Religiosity and attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A meta-analysis. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 19(1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wyatt, T. J., Oswalt, S. B., White, C., & Peterson, F. L. (2008). Are tomorrow’s teachers ready to deal with diverse students? Teacher candidates’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(2), 171–185.Google Scholar
  64. Zanna, M. P., & Rempel, J. K. (1988). Attitudes: A new look at an old concept. In D. Bar-Tal & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), The social psychology of knowledge (pp. 315–334). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations