The unique needs of the GLBT population are an essential feature for consideration in the environment, more specifically the workplace. By recognizing these needs, appropriate vocational development can be created on a basis of support for these individuals. Datti (2009) reported that approximately 10% of people are gay or lesbian, which accounts for about 30 million or more Americans (Datti, 2009). Many of these individuals believe they are different and report feeling isolated, rejection, and feelings of depression, shame and low self-esteem. Many of these negative self-perceptions lead to difficulties developing one’s identity, in addition their vocational development. Specific considerations are discussed regarding the GLBT population in regards to their needs in the workplace.
The article written by Chope and Strom discusses some of the issues that transgender individuals face regarding the work setting, and offers some strategies for counselors to utilize when working with transgender people. Chope and Strom (2008) note that transgender people are generally less willing to "come out" in part because they often risk high levels of discrimination and physical harm. Similarly, Griffith and Hebl (2002) mostly focused on the dilemma that most homosexual people face in the workplace of whether to conceal or disclose their sexual identity. Griffith and Hebl (2002) hypothesize a number of reasons why some may resort to concealment. First of all, some feel very threatened by the outcome of self-disclosure. They may not feel supported by their company or coworkers, and think that they would be ostracized if their sexual identity were revealed. Another reason is that some may not see their homosexuality as being central to their identity, and therefore do not see a need to involve that in their work life. Lastly, they believe a major reason is because some in this position are still struggling with self-acceptance and see themselves as inferior or flawed (Griffith & Hebl, 2002).
One’s personal identity development in relation to their sexual orientation is a key element in recognizing the needs for GLBT individuals. Across time, there have been movements and attention in increasing societal awareness of diverse populations, however people who are not part of this population have a misrepresentative view of LGBT people. Badget cites that most heterosexual people view gays and lesbians as being well-educated, high-paid, affluent, and successful. In their view, giving LGBT employees special protection is unnecessary and only helps them advance farther than the average employee. What Badget reinforces is that LGBT employees do not have access to many of the same rights that the majority of employees are guaranteed, such as social and legal recognition of their family structure, and certain retirement and healthcare benefits, which is also due to lack of legal recognition of family structures (Badget, 1995).
Badget (1995) brings awareness to the limited rights of GLBT individuals compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Similarly, Clark and colleagues report that health care is affected due to fear of discrimination and stigma. GLBT individuals keep from seeking care for themselves or their families and avoid disclosing relevant personal information once in care (Clark et al., 2001). Comprehensive standards of practice for treating the GLBT population that are developed with community participation help to facilitate the development of health access training and technical assistance to educate providers and consumers about care that is culturally competent (Clark et al., 2001). When appropriate data collection and GLBT-specific health-related research is expanded, this serves as an integral part of efforts to improve access to health care for GLBT individuals and their families (Clark et al., 2001). Finally, in order to eliminate barriers to care we need to see change at the health care service system level, increased cultural competence, skill building at the provider level, and the development of advocacy strategies at the consumer level (Clark et al., 2001).
Personal identity and sexual identity play a role in one’s development in the working environment. More specifically, GLBT individuals experience discrimination and a stigma that has been difficult to show resilience. Social awareness has increased across time, however personal changes in views of the GLBT population continue to be an issue. The rights of GLBT and their heterosexual counterparts continue to be inconsistent, which bring about the considerations and unique needs of GLBT individuals.