Assessing the Implicit Curriculum: Environmental Factors That Impact North American Lgbtq Social Work Student Learning and Perceptions of Support
Methods: An online survey was conducted in 2012 with LGBTQ students in accredited CSWE and CASWE undergraduate and graduate social work programs in North America. Students reported their perceptions of support; university/college, school and program policies; the presence of “out” administrators, faculty, and students; faculty impact in the classroom; and their assessment of other student’s comfort regarding LGBTQ issues. An analysis of quantitative data was conducted utilizing descriptive statistics and frequencies.
Findings: Student survey respondents (N = 1,018) were enrolled in BSW programs (24%) and MSW programs (76%) in the U. S. and Canada. Overall, 64% felt supported in terms of their LGBTQ identity, compared to 29% who had a “neutral” perception of supportiveness, and 13% who did not feel supported. 68% of students reported non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation at their institutions, with fewer reporting policies protecting gender identity (38%). LGBTQ student organizations were present at 87.5% of respondents’ institutions.
At the school/program level, students reported that most faculty (60%) and students (75%) knew about their identity. Indeed, students found most of their non-LGBTQ peers seemed comfortable with the students' LGBTQ identity (86%). Students reported that 91% of faculty were supportive of LGB issues, compared to transgender issues (75%). Few students knew “out” LGBTQ administrators/staff (31%), though most knew “out” students (91%).
In the classroom, faculty led LGBQ-centered discussions (79%) more frequently than transgender focused topics (51%). Most students “did not know” if faculty intervened when homophobia (48%) or transphobia (62%) was present in the classroom, whereas most students reported that faculty members did not exhibit homophobia (66%) or transphobia (59%).
Conclusions: LGBTQ social work students in North America report a variety of supportive factors in their school’s implicit curriculum. Considerable differences remain with regard to institutional supportiveness surrounding transgender issues compared to LGBQ. Implications for assessing factors related to the implicit curriculum and creating environmental change to increase perceptions of support among LGBTQ social work students will be discussed.