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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3337.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 1

Abstract #103428

Pre-Service Educators' Attitudes toward Gay and Lesbian Individuals

Christopher White, MA1, Tammy Jordan Wyatt, PhD2, Fred L. Peterson, PhD3, and Sara Oswalt, MPH, PhD2. (1) Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Campus Mail Code: D3700, Bellmont Hall 222, Austin, TX 78712, 512/656-9566, chris.white@mail.utexas.edu, (2) Health and Kinesiology, University of Texas at San Antonio, 6900 North Loop 1604 West, San Antonio, TX 78249, (3) Child, Adolescent, and School Health, The University of Texas at Austin, 2100 San Jacinto Blvd, Bellmont Hall 222, Austin, TX 78712

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth have been shown to be three times as likely to attempt suicide as the general population. In addition, youth who are questioning their sexual identity may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse and sexual risk-taking. Evidence also suggests that these youth are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts than their peers. Teachers' attitudes toward gay men and lesbians could play an important role in the mental and physical health of these youth. In a worst case scenario, comments and actions made by the teacher that are negative and/or discriminatory could result in psychological trauma. In less severe cases, teachers may not be able to make appropriate referrals to counselors or school psychologists if they harbor negative attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. The purpose of this session is to examine pre-service educators' attitudes toward gay and lesbian individuals. The design for this study was a cross-sectional, quantitative analysis, which used a previously validated ten item survey instrument (Herek, 1998) designed to assess attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and knowledge of sexuality issues among approximately 500 pre-service educators enrolled in two large universities in Central Texas. Results suggest the need for effective, pre-service sexuality education training programs to include information regarding homosexuality and establishing a positive sexual identity as well as utilize methods designed to enhance self-efficacy in teaching fundamental sexuality education concepts to students within grades K-12, no matter the controversial nature of the topic.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Homophobia

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Special Topics: Poster Session

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA