Advocating for Sexual and Gender Minorities - LGBTQIA Healthcare Guild

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Healthcare Advocacy and Activism

"The timing of our progressing struggle's success will ultimately rest on whether we choose provincial complacency or rise to a common dutiful allegiance -- of a national character -- to overcome the difficult challenges our movement faces outside our own state borders....To simply acknowledge the generational inevitably of marriage equality without assuming a personal duty to advance change is a moral failure of dire consequence. It coldly ignores the daily injury to same-sex couples' right to be free of discrimination and exercise basic legal, social, and economic needs. It turns a blind eye to the quiet suffering that LGBT children will unnecessarily endure, pushing them to tragically question their own self-worth and their rightful place in a society that fails to recognize their basic human dignity"  - Anthony Michael Kreis, Political Committee Co-Chair, HRC-Atlanta Steering Committee.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force bolsters the strength of local Lesbian, Gay, Biseuxal, Transgender (LGBT) activism in rural enclaves, small towns and cities nationwide. We build grassroots political muscle at every level by training activists, strengthening the infrastructure of local and state allies and organizing broad-based campaigns creating public support for full equality of LGBT people. Learn more about our Organizing & Training and Movement Building efforts....

Human Rights Campaign - LGBT Civil Rights

As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC's vision a reality. Founded in 1980, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues....

Psychologists for Social Responsibility - Sexual Orientation

    Although leading medical and mental health organizations removed homosexuality from classification listings of mental disorders decades ago, equal rights for individuals regardless of their sexual orientation persists as a critical social justice battlefront. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families continue to face painful and widespread social stigmatization in their daily lives. Prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are present in a broad range of important domains, including marriage and other legal rights, employment opportunities, school settings, media representations, and military service. In addition, anti-gay violence and hate crimes are especially heinous reminders of the adverse environment that threatens the physical, social, economic, and psychological well-being of members of the LGBT communities.

Psychologists for Social Responsibility Statement in Support of Same-Sex Marriage:

In accord with the commitments to individual liberty and equal protection under the law enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) affirms its support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Keenly aware of the deeply destructive effects of prejudice, discrimination, and social stigma on unjustly marginalized members of society, PsySR stands opposed to any national or state legislation that seeks to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

We further believe that psychological research provides compelling support for this clear social justice imperative. After reviewing the empirical evidence, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers have concluded that (1) the institution of marriage offers social, psychological, and health benefits to couples, (2) lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and (3) the children of same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are equally well-adjusted and psychologically healthy.*

Psychologists for Social Responsibility therefore strongly supports efforts by concerned citizens and social justice advocates to reverse current state bans and to advance the legalization of same-sex marriage.

*Conclusions presented in Brief Amici Curiae of the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in Support of the Parties Challenging the Marriage Exclusion, Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365 (2007).

Bringing Advocacy Counseling To Life

Organizational Intervention

Dinsmore, Chapman, and McCollum (2000) suggested that counselors use the following organizational interventions:

1. Facilitate client access to information provided by institutions. When an institution does a poor job of disseminating information that is critical to a client's well-being, counselors must challenge the institution to provide the clients with easier access to this information.

2. Serve as a mediator between clients and institutions. When a client reaches an impasse with an institution over some issue, the counselor should act as a mediator between the client and the institution in an effort to resolve the impasse.

3. Negotiate with outside agencies and institutions to provide better services for clients. Counselors must attempt to convince agencies and institutions about the services that their clients need.

4. Influence policy makers through educational lobbying

efforts. When it is clear that sweeping policy changes are needed, counselors must lobby to effect those changes.

5. Direct complaints about inadequate services or oppressive policies to funding agencies. Funding agencies should be informed when institutions serve clients poorly or perform practices that harm clients.

Individual Intervention

Individual counseling skills are necessary to engage, understand, and support the client throughout the process of negotiating with the various systems influencing the client's life (Kiselica, 1995).

Group Intervention

advocacy counselors must understand group change processes, group psychoeducational strategies, and group counseling interventions and apply them in social action initiatives. For example, in an effort to expand the opportunities of inner-city children, Vontress (1966) realized that the long-term educational and career adjustment of the children hinged on decisions made by the children's families, their school system, the local employment sector, and the media.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Blind Idealism

Ponzo recommended the following strategies for all advocacy counselors who hope to avoid the pitfalls of overzealousness and blind idealism:

1. Be flexible and compromise: To persuade others to change, counselors must demonstrate openness and flexibility and model their own willingness to change and compromise.

2. Understand oneself: Although a counselor's personality can be a powerful tool for initiating social action, it can be administered in ways that are too strong. Counselors should be aware of the impact of their personality on others and adjust their style so that they can be effective change agents.

3. Understand others: Develop a facilitative relationship with the system. Help the people in the system to trust you by demonstrating empathy, warmth, concreteness, and understanding.

4. Let the system teach you: Learn how the established system operates and use this knowledge to bring about lasting change.

5. Set realistic goals: Groups intent on social change often accomplish little by being fanatical and setting unachievable goals. Plan short- and long-term goals that are attainable (Ponzo,1974, pp. 29-32)

*Kiselica, M. S., & Robinson, M. (2001). Bringing advocacy counseling to life: The history, issues, and human dramas of social justice work in counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 79(4), 387–398.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues at is the country’s largest nonprofit for young people and social change. We have 1,425,974 million members (and counting) who kick ass on causes they care about. Bullying. Homelessness. Cancer. The list goes on. spearheads national campaigns so 13- to 25-year-olds
can make an impact - without ever needing money, an adult, or a car.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Petitions for Change at is the world's largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see. There are more than 25 million users in 196 countries, and every day people use our tools to transform their communities – locally, nationally and globally. Whether it's a mother fighting bullying in her daughter's school, customers pressing banks to drop unfair fees, or citizens holding corrupt officials to account, thousands of campaigns started by people like you have won on – and more are winning every week.

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC (GLAA) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit political organization that defends the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Nation's Capital. GLAA lobbies the D.C. Council; monitors government agencies; educates and rates local candidates; and works in coalitions to defend the safety, health and equal rights of LGBT families....

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - Get Busy. Get Equal for LGBT Rights

The ACLU has advocated on behalf of LGBT people for over 70 years and in 1986 founded the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, a division of the national American Civil Liberties Union Foundation. The Project's staff are experts in constitutional law and civil rights, specializing in sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/AIDS. The ACLU's nationwide network of affiliates allows the Project to work for fairness and equality at the local, state and federal levels, affecting change in the courts and legislatures, as well as in the court of public opinion...

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom On-Line Directory for Kink-Aware Health Professionals

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions. (such as Kink, BDSM, Leather, Swing, etc.).

KAP is a resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.  In the past decade, alternative sexual expression has become much more visible to the general public. As we continue to move into the streets of mainstream America, we face an increasing number of attacks against our right to freedom of sexual expression....

Counselors for Social Justice LGBT Resolutions

Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) emphasizes the Advocacy Competencies as an important element of counseling and counselor education programs and recommends that they be infused throughout all programs.

Resolutions Promoting a Socially Responsible Approach to Counseling

Resolution #5:

Given the substantial body of empirical knowledge that describes the negative impact that heterosexism and violence against gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered persons continue to have on human development, it is resolved that the socially responsible approach to mental health care that Dr. King advocated is necessary to eradicate these toxic social environmental conditions in our society.

Counselors have responsibilities to empower and advocate for underrepresented, marginalized and oppressed groups serving as a voice with and on behalf of them. These responsibilities are both ethical and professional duties of all counselors. To this end, the Advocacy Competencies should be infused into counseling and counselor education programs providing theoretical and practical knowledge to counselors‐ in‐training and preparing students as social change agents and advocates for an increasingly diverse society. Ethical counselors are aware of their roles as empowering agents and advocates in service as change agents on the systemic level to serve better to the marginalized and to underrepresented, marginalized, and oppressed individuals and groups. The Advocacy Competencies refer to counselors’ ability to recognize the injustices that effect physical, academic, career, economic, and mental well being of individuals and having the skill sets to act to alleviate such injustices in the society. This is accomplished by working with and on behalf of our clients, the community, and society at large. Social justice advocacy is a fundamental element of providing culturally sensitive and effective services to clients therefore should be a core element in counselor education programs.

Advocacy Competencies Infusion Recommended Actions:

1. The Advocacy Competencies should be reflected in the core values of the counseling programs.

2. The Advocacy Competencies should be infused to the entire counselor education programs in a way that the competencies are reflected in all course syllabi, mission and vision of the programs.

3. The training of counselors should reflect multicultural perspectives as well as international and global applications and iterations of counseling theory and practice. Counselors should be trained as local, regional, and international social justice advocates.

4. Counseling and counselor education programs should empower their students to take more active roles in community transformation efforts, social justice organizations, action research, and service learning.

5. Counseling and counselor education programs should provide opportunities to the students to learn to become global social justice advocates by providing international practicum and internship experiences.

6. Counseling and counselor education programs should support research and scholarship in the area of social justice and social change that is responsive to client needs.

7. CACREP and CORE standards should include expectations of the infusion of the Advocacy

Competencies in all accredited programs.

A Pragmatic View of Social Justice Advocacy

Counselors who operate from a social justice advocacy perspective hold the belief that environmental factors such as oppression limit people's ability to achieve optimal mental health. Hence, the need for counselors to have a basic understanding of oppression dynamics.  Hardiman and Jackson (1982) add: "Oppression exists when one social group exploits another social group for its own benefit. Oppression is distinct from a situation of simple brute force or control. It is first and foremost a systematic phenomenon that involves ideological domination, institutional control, and the promulgation of the dominant group's ideology of domination and culture on the oppressed. Oppression is simply not an ideology or set of beliefs that asserts one group's superiorly over another. Nor is it random acts of discrimination or harassment toward members of the subordinate group. It is a system of domination with many interlocking parts" (p. 2).

Empowering Disadvantaged Populations

The primary purpose of social advocacy is to empower clients from the debilitating effects of oppression (Lewis & Bradley, 2000).  McWhirter (1994) describes empowerment as, "a process by which people, organizations, or groups who are powerless or marginalized (a) become aware of the power dynamics at work in their life context. (b) develop the skills and capacity for gaining some reasonable control over their lives, (c) which they exercise, (d) without infringing on the rights of others, and (e) which coincides with actively supporting the empowerment of others in their community" (p. 12).

Microlevel social justice advocacy strategies are predicated on the following assumptions: 1) Oppression exists; 2) Client problems are a result of systemic barriers, 3) Counseling is not, and cannot, be a value-neutral endeavor, 4) Counselors have an ethical obligation to address social injustices; 5) Counselors need to posses multicultural competence

Application of Microlevel Social Justice Advocacy Strategies

  1. 1.Identifying client strengths

  2. 2.Connecting client problems with systemic issues

3. Creating conscientizaco (awakening that they are not to blame for the problem)

4. Developing self-advocacy skills

5. Developing and implementing a SMART plan of action (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)

6. Reassess the plan of action for flexibility

* Ratts, M. J. (2008). A pragmatic view of social justice advocacy: Infusing microlevel social justice advocacy strategies into counseling practices. Counseling and Human Development, 41(1), 1–8.


Hidden Camera Footage of Gay Couple in TX - Advocacy

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