Teachers’ attitudes toward homosexuality and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer community in the United States
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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.
KeywordsTeacher attitudes Homosexuality Sexual orientation Gay Lesbian Bisexual
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.
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