The Unique Needs of LGBT Individuals:

The Chung (2003) article spend went to great lengths to discuss the opportunities for and threats to career counseling LGBT individuals. One opportunity is the Human Rights Movement where gays in the Military are mentioned. If counselors are armed with special training in career development and life planning, counselors and counseling psychologists are in a unique position to further this movement by promoting advancements in theory, research and practice for career counseling with LGBT individuals (Chung, 2003). Also included is the inclusive Movement where Chung (2003) notes that professional counseling organizations have been slow to include transgenderism into their names and missions. One of the threats that Chung (2003) mentions is economic depression. Issues regarding a person losing their job and not possibly having their partner to fall back on for benefits are discussed. Chung (2003) also mentions that the glbt person might be ousted by their families and will then lack that support system. The second threat that is mentioned is HIV. The impact of HIV and AIDS on one's physical and metal health is discussed.
The conclusion of the article notes that there are many avenues of research that still need to be explored pertaining to especially lesbians and transgendered individuals.
The O'Ryan and McFarland article begins by talking about the possible stressors of dual-career relationships and how when gays and lesbians are involved, there are even more stressors. O'Ryan and McFarland (2010) identified that workplace homophobia, whether or not to openly acknowledge the gay relationship, how to characterize the couple's relationship, how to introduce one's partner and dealing with social events as extra stressors for gay and lesbian couples. A study was conducted that involved 5 lesbian couples and 4 gay couples, all of whom were commited in their relationships and commited to their careers. All participants had at least a college education. Basically, the study was trying to identify the subjects' experiences regarding the intersection of career and relationships for dual career lesbian and gay couples (O'Ryan & McFarland, 2010). Three major themes were discovered in the research including: planfulness, creating positive social networks, and a shift from marginalization to consolidation and integration (O'Ryan & McFarland, 2010). In regards to planfullness, the article explains the strategies and decisions that need to be made when introducing one's partner at a social function related to work. There are four subthemes under creating positive social networks and there is an explanation about how couple's come to trust certain peiople and open up. The shifting aspect explores how cople's work together to become an integrated and comfortable part of the working world. This mirrors the coming-out process. The author makes a note about transferability of results and points out that the couples in the study had bachelor's degrees, were ages 20-50, and lived in the Midwest. The results might not be true for people outside of those categories, or for bisexual or transgendered individuals. The article includes an implications for counseling section. O'Ryan and McFarland (2010) stress that a counselor assist lesbian and gay couples in developing strategies to cope with work situations. The authors also note that counselors should help couples construct mutually supported roles and facilitate the teaming-up process used to strengthen relationships.


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. Basically, the goal of the article was to offer information to career and employment counselors about the emotionally demanding experiences that transgender individuals face when entering and gaining tenure in the working world (Chope & Strom, 2008). 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. The challenging areas that the authors note include attitudes about work, employment applications, facilities, medical insurance, name changes on legal forms, appearance in the workplace and religios and spiritual values. As far as attitudes about work, Chope and Strom (2008) indicate that in a world where employees move up the employment ladder by tooting their own horn, transgender individuals may want to avoid drawing attention to themselves. It is suggested that counselors process and explore the amount of emotional support that the transgender person was afforded by their family. When completing employment applications, despite a transgender person feeling that this poses no personal problems, Chope and Strom (2008) indicate that this could be awkward when the applicant is clearly the opposite gender of what is being checked. Bathrooms pose another problem that a transgender individual has to overcome in the workplace. Counselors should be cognizant that human resources managers often adress the corporate bathroom issue with the "Principle of Least Astonishment" suggesting that a person that presents as a woman will be less astonishing in a women's bathroom (Chope & Strom, 2008). When transgender people apply for medical insurance, Chope and Strom (208) indicate that they often have their applications denied upon disclosing their transgender status. Chomp and Strom (2008) point out that counselors should be aware that transgender individuals often do not consider ID changes. Name changes are relatively easy to complete, however, gender changes cannot be made without proof of surgery. As far as appearance, it is indicated that counselors should help to prepare their clients for differential reactions in the workplace and while some may be accepting, many will be discriminatory (Chope & Strom, 2008). Overall, one of the therapy techniques mentioned was simply narrative. Counselors might be of best help by simply letting their transgender client tell their story.


The article written by Clark, Landers, Linde and Sperber (2001) attempts to highlight some of the state-funded efforts that were made to improve access to care for GLBT individuals. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the GLBT Health Access Project is working to eliminate health care barriers for the GLBT community, foster the development of comprehensive, culturally appropriate health promotion policies and health care services for GLBT people and their families, and generate appropriate data collection on GLBT health (Clark et al., 2001). One of the first steps of implementing the program was to create a list of standards for health care and related services provided to GLBT poeple and their families (Clark et al., 2001). After the standards were identified, they needed to create a training cirriculum and technical assistance component to give providers the support and tools necessary to implement the standards within their agencies (Clark et al., 2001). The GLBT Health Access Project attributes its success to leadership by public officials, community-based advocacy, and provider commitment (Clark et al., 2001). There were also several key findings noted in the article. Due to fear of discrimination and stigma, many 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 intergral 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).



Levitt et al. (2009) provided some important background information pertaining to the GLBT community. The Human Rights Campaign (2006) noted that 26 states have passed constitutional amendments that restrict marriage to one man and one woman (as cited in Levitt et al., 2009). The U.S. General Accounting Office (2004) reports that there are 1,138 benefit rights and protections of marriage that are denied to same-sex couples who are not able to marry that impact policies such as social security, taxes, medical care, military and veteran's benefits, immigration, and employee benefits (as cited in Levitt et al., 2009). DiPlacido (1998) and Meyer (2003) define minority stress as the increased stress that all minorities experience as a result of social stigmatization (as cited in Levitt et al., 2009). The minority stress model sugests that this stress adds to general life stressors that are experienced by all people (Levitt et al., 2009). Meyer (2003) points out that one difference between racial and sexual minority stressors is that GLB people have been found to experience stress from concealing their sexual orientation (as cited in Levitt et al., 2009).



The article written by Levitt et al. (2009) explains a study that was conducted and focused on GLBT individuals' experiences during a time that anti-GLBT legislation was being passed. Researchers recruited 13 participants from the Memphis area. The subject population was diverse in regards to sex and gender identification, sexual orientation and relationship status (Levitt et al., 2009). All participants participated in an interview that took place 2 months before or after the 2006 Tennessee constitutional amendment vote to ban gay marriage (Levitt et al., 2009). The central question in each interview was: "What is the experience of being GLBT in the midst of legislative initiatives and movements that seek to limit the rights of GLBT people?" (Levitt et al., 2009). Levitt et al. (2009) also indicated that the participants were asked a set of subquestions exploring how anti-gay initiatives affected participants' personal beliefs and experiences, their relationships with others and their environment. The results yielded that one core category was developed that subsumed the eight "clusters" that emerged. The clusters were as follows: Cluster 1: Initiatives lead to constant painful reminders that I'm seen as less than human by our government and public laws, Cluster 2: The irrationality of anti-GLBT initiatives and movements is baffling, painful, and scary: We are not who they say we are, Cluster 3: Supports for my GLBT identity are even more important in the face of initiatives and movements that threaten my religion, experience, family, place of residence, or workplace, Cluster 4: There is a personal need to manage my emotion about these legislative initiatives or movements, like anger, hurt or guilt, via engagment in and/or avoidance of these issues, Cluster 5: These issues have a stronger impact if these rights are actively important due to my life regarding marriage, health care, finances, and family security, and/or if I have less support than other GLBT individuals, Cluster 6: My level of social activism depends upon how I balance a need for social justice versus fears that these efforts will not secure our safety, Cluster 7: Connections to others have become more dichotomized due to these issues: In most settings, I feel a stronger isolation, although in supportive ones, I feel more connected, and Cluster 8: Activism seems more rewarding and effective when I can present myself openly with self-acceptance and try to see others' perspectives (Levitt et al., 2009). Levitt et al. (2009) report that their findings suggest that the experience of being a GLBT person in the midst of initiatives and movements is one of finding an idiosyncratic equilibrium in which these two dangers can be balanced in a way so that each person can engage in forms of resistance while maintaining a sense of personal safety. In the implications for counseling section, Levitt et al. (2009) indicate that counselors are charged with recognizing that substantial and ongoing minority stress might be at hand when engaged in diagnosis of this population, depending on the context and individual history of the client. When GLBT clients live in environments with strong anti-GLBT sentiments, it is important to inquire about the impact of this environment as well as recognize and validate the extraordinary stressors that the individual may face (Levitt et al., 2009). Overall, it appeared that the GLBT individuals experienced an almost daily balancing act - walking a tightrope between political engagement and self-care by disengaging (Levitt et al., 2009).


Workplace issues are a predominant feature of the working life of the majority of LGBT workers. Badget (1995) asserts that discriminatory practices reach beyond the realm of the overt, or observable behaviors, but has also created a disparaging effect in wages between perceptually “normal” employees and their gay or lesbian counterparts. She reiterates much of the information found in previous articles regarding the prevalence of discrimination and the issues that LGBT employees face, such as the fear of being “outed”, how to handle one's sexual identity, and the ways that many people have experienced discrimination by employers or co-workers. She asserts that, just like any other minority status, such as race, gender, or disability, that employers should establish legal protection for their LGBT employees (Badget, 1995). In doing so, they are not only protecting LGBT people from discrimination on a personal level, but they are also protecting them from unfair hiring practices, promoting, and salary determinations. She believes that changing the administrative view will have the ultimate effect, not only of protection, but also identifying LGBT people as a legitimate minority, thereby allowing them to feel more at ease about their work environment (Badget, 1995).


The reason why she believes this still has not taken place, despite the increase in social awareness, is because 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).


In her review of studies on wage effects, she also noticed a difference between the salaries earned by heterosexual employees versus LGBT employees for the same jobs. Overall, they earned less income, and experienced less advancement if they had disclosed their sexual identity, or were perceived as being gay or lesbian. She stated that, on average, LGBT employees earn 11-27% less than their heterosexual counterparts based on the national average. One study that she discussed in length in regards to why wage discrimination exists was the Anchorage study. Out of 191 employers surveyed, 18% said they would fire a LGBT employee if they found out they were gay, 27% would not hire an openly gay person, and 26% claimed they would not promote an LGBT individual.


Griffith and Hebl mostly focused on the dilemma that most homosexual people face in the workplace of whether to conceal or disclose their sexual identity. Again, the primary reason and consideration was the perceived threat of discrimination by superiors, coworkers, and subordinates. According to their research, 10-14% of the workforce is non-heterosexual. They cited former studies that found that in the workplace, 62% of gay men, and 59% of lesbian women have experienced discrimination. Over the last few decades, as awareness has spread, overt discrimination is becoming less prevalent, but is still perceived to exist on a more subtle level. They assert that our society now has a better understanding of the changing workplace, which has led to homosexual employees gaining legal protection, as well sexual orientation issues being addressed in diversity training (Griffith & Hebl, 2002).

Despite the changing work environment, many gay employees still face a great deal of stress in dealing with the issue of concealing or disclosing their sexual identity. For those who choose to conceal their homosexuality, the disconnect between their work life and personal life causes anxiety. They sometimes have to go to extreme measures to conceal their identity. They cited such strategies as not revealing personal information to coworkers, changing the gender of their significant other when they discuss them, and lying about a having a fictitious heterosexual partner. Griffith and Hebl 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 was 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).


The central focus of Croteau's article was to review and evaluate the work experiences that gay and lesbian individuals encounter. He also sought to increase awareness, as well as generate further research that improved and expanded upon what already exists. Croteau, like the majority of the other authors overwhelmingly centered around discrimination as the most pervasive experience of homosexual people in the workplace; citing ranges found in previous research of 25-66% of the population having either experienced or anticipated experiencing discrimination. According to his research, the anticipation is the most anxiety producing, because they live in constant fear of being “outed” (Croteau, 1996).


In the article, Croteau broke down discrimination into two forms: formal and informal. Formal discrimination was defined as the practices and procedures present at the administrative level that restrict work rewards such as firing, hiring, promotions, salaries, and excluding partners in various benefits. Informal refers to harassment or actions taken by superiors or coworkers such as verbal harassment, property damage, and loss of credibility and acceptance (Croteau, 1996).
The anticipation and fear surrounding being “outed” is a major factor in determining how comfortable one feels about revealing their sexual identity. Croteau found that openness ranges from person-to-person. In his survey, 29% reported not being open at all, 32% were somewhat open, 23% were mostly open, and 16% were totally open (Croteau, 1996). Those that decided to disclose also differed in the amount of people who were aware of their sexual identity. Some of the participants reported telling one or a few close friends, some told everyone, and others were even open about their sexuality to prospective employers during their interview (Croteau, 1996).
Like much of the preexisting research at this time, Croteau discussed some of the strategies that homosexual employees use to conceal their identity such as lying, or not revealing any personal information. Croteau was undecided about which group experienced more job satisfaction; those who disclosed, or those who concealed. Ultimately, he conceded that both groups experienced stress, whether it be from having to constantly monitor the secrecy of their identity, or from dealing with the consequences of being openly out to those they worked with (Croteau, 1996).


According to the research conducted by Griffin, the most pervasive fear experienced by LGBT educators, and the general working LGBT population, is the fear of accusation and discrimination from coworkers. For educators in particular, the fear extends beyond being discriminated against for being LGBT, but to much more demoralizing accusations, such as being called a child molester by parents, children, and staff. Overwhelmingly, LGBT workers seek to integrate their personal and professional lives. The pressure of maintaining a level of separateness is a huge source of stress and unhappiness for many dealing with their sexual identity. Griffin refers to this stress as tension, because there is a constant push and pull between wanting to be true to themselves, and maintaining their professional reputation (Griffin, 1992).

Griffin proposed a number of protection strategies employed by LGBT educators. The level to which these strategies are used occur on a continuum and can change over time. The first strategy she proposed was reputation. Those who employ this strategy limit the negative effects and reactions by establishing a strong reputation. They may be viewed as a “super teacher”, someone “not to mess with”, or an avid activist on all liberal fronts. The second strategy is preparation, in which the individual spends copious amounts of time planning ahead on how to respond to questions regarding their sexuality. The third is regulation, where the individual stringently regulates how much information they choose to divulge about themselves. The fourth is separation. Those who employ this strategy maintain a strict line between their work and home lives (Griffin, 1992).

In addition to strategies of protection, Griffin also discovered a number of levels on which LGBT educators expressed “being out”. They again range from not disclosing their sexual identity at all, to being completely open to everyone. “Passing” refers to someone who goes to great lengths to lead their coworkers to believe that they are heterosexual. They may extensively emphasize their heterosexual status, and may even go as far to make up a boyfriend or girlfriend. “Covering” means that the individual attempts to prevent people from seeing them as gay by not revealing certain facts regarding their personal lives, or changing the gender of their significant other. Being implicitly out means that the individual may have disclosed to some coworkers, and honestly shares the details of their life without specific labels. Being explicitly out involves the individual honestly sharing the details of their personal life with being labeled as homosexual (Griffin, 1992).

In the article, 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 drastic actions including social isolation, dropping out of school, substance abuse, and even suicide (Datti, 2009). Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) developed a study, as discussed in the article, reporting evidence that lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents develop at a slower pace in regards to coping with career tasks (Datti, 2009). These marginalized individuals experience a sense of distraction from career development tasks due to being busy dealing with identity issues. Special attention and integrative models of career development are necessary for this population of individuals.

Gays and Lesbians tend to score opposite from their heterosexual peers on self-efficacy career measures. Whereas heterosexual individuals are likely to score higher self-efficacy for stereotypical same-gender careers, gays and lesbians tend to show more self-efficacy for opposite gender stereotyped careers (Lyons, H., Brenner, B., & Lipman, J., 2010)

Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) contend that some of the difficulties faced by the LGBT group deal with the competing development needs of sexual identity and career identity at the same time. More research needs to be dedicated to developing interventions that can assist those individuals, especially adolescences who are juggling multiple developmental processes.