Disclosure of membership in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community by individuals with communication impairments: a preliminary web-based survey

Rebecca J Kelly, Gregory C Robinson
American Journal of Speech-language Pathology 2011, 20 (2): 86-94

PURPOSE: The purpose of this preliminary investigation was to examine potential barriers to seeking services for communication impairments perceived by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Specifically, this clinical survey investigated (a) the rate and importance of disclosure of membership in the LGBT community by people with communication impairments to their clinicians and (b) the perception of bias of audiologists and speech-language pathologists against LGBT individuals with communication impairments.

METHOD: A total of 192 people identifying as LGBT with a communication impairment responded to a web-based survey. The survey contained questions about the respondents' demographic information, living situation, and experiences with clinical services for communication impairments. In addition, the survey contained open-ended comment sections.

RESULTS: There were differences in the responses of LGBT people with speech-language impairments and those with hearing impairments. The majority of respondents did not disclose their membership in the LGBT community, although they felt it was important. Most respondents reported perceiving bias toward a heterosexual orientation from their clinicians.

CONCLUSIONS: Exploration of issues important to the LGBT community contributes to the growing emphasis on diversity and cultural competency in communication sciences and disorders. Specific clinical recommendations and directions for future research are discussed.

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