Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gay social workers-Psychology, Gay social workers-Education, Sexual minorities-Psychology, Homophobia-Psychological aspects, Transphobia-Psychological aspects, Social work education, Career development-Psychological aspects, LGBT, Social workers, Professional development


This exploratory study was undertaken to determine the extent to which LGBT social workers experience homophobia and transphobia during the course of their Master's education. Secondly, this study examined the cumulative impact that homophobia and transphobia have on the professional development of LGBT social workers during their graduate education. Using semi-structured interviews with LGBT Master's level social work students, as well as graduates of Master's of Social Work programs, the study found that all 12 participants experienced oppression in the form of homophobia and/or transphobia at some point during their education. The study explored three major areas in which oppression took place: within the classroom and curriculum, during field placements, and within the context of supervision. The study concluded that discrimination and oppression based on the sexual orientation and gender identity of LGBT social work graduate students is widely prevalent, although it varies in degree and magnitude. In addition, this study found that half of the respondents felt like their experiences of oppression related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity during social work graduate school had a negative impact on their overall professional development. A quarter of the respondents felt that learning to overcome homophobia and/or transphobia ultimately made them stronger clinicians. Therefore, this study suggests that further research on the professional development of LGBT social workers is necessary and critical so that graduate schools can better support their students who identity as LGBT or as part of the LGBT community.




iii, 47 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 40-41)

Limited Access until August 2018