Speech-Language Pathologists' Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Populations

Adrienne Hancock, Gregory Haskin
American Journal of Speech-language Pathology 2015, 24 (2): 206-21

PURPOSE: The cultures and service needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) minority groups are relevant to speech-language pathologists (SLPs). In particular, transgender individuals seeking communication services from SLPs in order to improve quality of life require culturally and clinically competent clinicians. Knowledge and attitudes regarding a population are foundational stages toward cultural competency (Turner, Wilson, & Shirah, 2006). The purpose of this research is to assess LGBTQ knowledge and attitudes among aspiring and practicing SLPs.

METHOD: An online survey was completed by 279 SLPs from 4 countries.

RESULTS: Mean accuracy scores on LGBTQ culture questions were near 50%. Self-ratings indicated more comfort than knowledge, with generally positive feelings toward LGBTQ subgroups. Transgender communication is within SLPs' scope of practice, yet 47% indicated such services were not addressed in their master's curriculum, and 51% did not know how to describe transgender communication therapy. When respondents were asked to indicate priority of 10 LGBTQ topics for a continuing education seminar, communication masculinization/feminization best practice and case examples had the highest mean priority scores.

CONCLUSION: There is a need to promote LGBTQ cultural competence within speech-language pathology. This study provides direction for improving LGBTQ cultural competence among SLPs.

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