Abstract: Child Protection Professionals’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about Lgbtqia+ Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Child Protection Professionals’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about Lgbtqia+ Youth

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Ahwatukee A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Gabriela Alejandra Martinez Jothar, MPH, PhD student, University of Groningen, Netherlands
Victor Rodrigo González Álvarez, MSc, PhD candidate, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Mijntje ten Brummelaar, PhD, Teacher/researcher, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
José Ángel Rodriguez Martínez, Head of Planning and Social Assessment Service, General Directorate for Social Policies of the Government of Cantabria, Spain, Santander, Spain
Mónica López López, PhD, Associate Profesor, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Background and Purpose

Child protection professionals play a key role in improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth in out-of-home care. However, several studies show that they often lack important skills and knowledge to support this group of youth. For example, many practitioners are unable to provide youth with adequate support for their needs related to sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, which could explain why some young people still feel the need to conceal their LGBTQIA+ identity in care. Moreover, some care professionals might hold negative attitudes and prejudices towards LGBTQIA+ youth and, a result, provide less support to them.

Though some research has been published about this topic, it is sparce, and little information about the situation is found in the context of Spain. The purpose if this study is, then, to gain a better understanding of the perspectives professionals have regarding their work with LGBTQIA+ youth, including their everyday efforts to create an affirming environment and the existing prejudices they may have towards this population.


A 113 question survey divided in 9 stages was undertaken. Participants were first asked for basic information regarding demographics and the facilities where they worked. The following four sections included questions regarding the participant’s inclusive actions towards Gay, Lesbian, Trans and intersex youth. They were then asked about their previous training and future training needs and areas of opportunity. Participants then answered the Modern Homonegativity Scale (MHS) and a translated version of the Transgender Inclusive Behaviour Scale. (TIBS)


Most participants stated they had supported LGBTQIA+ youth in issues pertaining directly to their sexual orientation and gender identity, though they also mentioned contact with these teens was infrequent or inexistant in their workplace. However, they only asked questions regarding these topics on occasion, stating they thought it unnecessary unless problems arose, or that it was a private matter.

An overwhelming majority of the participants stated they reacted positively or neutrally when youth expressed they had a romantic relationship with someone of the same gender and they expected the same from their colleagues. Similar results were observed when asked about their reaction to youth who identify as a different gender than the one assigned at birth. However, results obtained from the latter parts of the survey (MHS and TIBS scales) suggest more work is necessary within this population, with regards to existing prejudice and negative attitudes and affirming behaviors.

Most of the participants expressed they had not received training on working with LGBTQIA+ youth and they weren’t sure whether the organization for which they worked offered courses or a guideline about this. Only approximately half of the practitioners expressed knowing of specific associations who could provide specific support to this youth.

Conclusions and Implications

This study has the potential to inform public policy of the needs of the LGBTQIA+ youth in out of home care as perceived by the professionals, as well as the needs of these practitioners in working with this population, and potential areas of opportunity regarding their training.