Religiosity and social contact with LGB individuals: School psychologists attitudes

Pascal D Wolf, Pace University


Statistics indicate that some of the most pervasive anti-gay violence occurs in high schools and undergraduate colleges. School psychologists have a possibility to create an environment of tolerance and acceptance and therefore minimize such violence in schools. Research findings support the hypothesis that attitudes of heterosexual people toward LGB-people—varying from negative to positive—are possibly a function of religious attendance in general. The purpose of this study was to investigate if this too holds true for school psychologists and school psychologists in training, therefore examining how gender, training level, religious affiliation and previous interpersonal contact with LGB-people might influence one's negative attitudes toward LGB-people, and thus impact the work with LGB-students. To assess participants' religiosity and their attitudes towards gay men and lesbians, multifactor attitude and religiosity scales were used. The sample consisted of 32 males and 239 females, from various ethnic backgrounds, various age ranges and work experiences. Participants were able to fill out a questionnaire on the Internet. Results revealed that females were significantly more willing to grant civil rights to LGB-people than were males. Men evidenced significantly lower internalized affirmativeness than did females. Males also evidenced significantly more homonegativity than did females. Practicing school psychologists evidenced more knowledge regarding LGB history and less religious conflict than did school psychology graduate students. Religiosity was a predictor of negative attitudes toward LGB-people. Having had social contact with either gay men or lesbians served as a moderator for an attitude change on some of the scales used in this study. An important implication of this study is that the same mechanisms that contribute to nonprofessionals' attitudes towards homosexual individuals also apply to school psychologists and school psychologists in training, and therefore could be a potential blind spot for professionals working in schools and the mental health field. This would have an impact on the work with LGB-students and needs careful consideration and more research in this area. Gaining more knowledge on this subject will help to aid in the development of interventions for heterosexism at various levels in different schools, such as public schools or private and religious schools.

Subject Area

Religion|Behavioral psychology|Social psychology|Educational psychology|Clinical psychology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Wolf, Pascal D, "Religiosity and social contact with LGB individuals: School psychologists attitudes" (2009). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3335393.



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