How are School Counselors Prepared to Handle LGBT Issues?

With the changing climate found in both private and public schools today, it’s important that teachers have experience and knowledge regarding LGBT issues in schools. Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender often face bullying from their peers, among other problems. These students want to know that they can turn to their teachers and their counselors for help. Students enrolled in college programs today, with plans to work as counselors, must go through different forms of training designed to help them assist their future students.

Identifying Bullying and Harassment

One of the ways in which colleges prepare students for helping LGBT students is with programs designed to teach how to identify the signs of bullying and harassment. Students of all ages tend to pick on those who are a little different, but the victims of harassment are often too afraid to speak out about what they experience. School counselors look for signs of bullying that may include changes in behavior or appearance. Those working in schools today must also know how to get students to open up to them and talk about the problems they have in school.

Removing Bias

It is nearly impossible for a counselor with any type of personal bias to help students suffering emotional or physical abuse at home or at school because of their sexuality. Many colleges now offer classes that help students eliminate the personal biases they might have against certain groups. For example, if you grew up in a house with parents who constantly told you being gay was bad, you might find that you carry those thoughts and feelings with you. You must learn how to view all students in the same manner to avoid any potential problems.

Training Programs

Colleges introduced new training programs that taught students about LGBT issues in schools after a series of incidents occurred, including a rash of newspaper articles about students who committed suicide because of harassment from their peers. These programs help students understand the type of issues that LGBT students face and what counselors can do to help them. The courses and programs often let students role play with others in order to gain hands on experience. They may also provide the option of interning at a local LGBT organization. The more training and experience you get, the more you can help your future students.

Education on Alliances and Organizations

The idea of starting an LGBT organization on a high school campus was hard to imagine a few years ago, but according to the Human Rights Campaign, there are now around 3,000 of these programs in the United States alone. As a future counselor, you may receive some training on how to start or best advise one of these programs in your school. Counselors working as advisors often help students find a place to meet in school, assist with fundraising programs and offer general advice and support to members.

Teachers and school counselors face more social issues than ever before and must know how to help every student they see throughout the school year. College programs now offer training and courses designed to teach future counselors more about LGBT issues and how to best support the students in these communities.

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