Attitudes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents seeking health care for their children in two early parenting services in Australia

Elaine Bennett, Karen Berry, Theophilus I Emeto, Oliver K Burmeister, Jeanine Young, Linda Shields
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2017, 26 (7-8): 1021-1030

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To examine the attitudes to and knowledge and beliefs about homosexuality of nurses and allied professionals in two early parenting services in Australia.

BACKGROUND: Early parenting services employ nurses and allied professionals. Access and inclusion policies are important in community health and early childhood service settings. However, little is known about the perceptions of professionals who work within early parenting services in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

DESIGN: This is the final in a series of studies and was undertaken in two early parenting services in two states in Australia using a cross-sectional design with quantitative and qualitative approaches.

METHODS: Validated questionnaires were completed by 51 nurses and allied professionals and tested with chi-squared test of independence (or Fisher's exact test), Mann-Whitney U-test, Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance or Spearman's rank correlation. Thematic analysis examined qualitative data collected in a box for free comments.

RESULTS: Of the constructs measured by the questionnaires, no significant relationships were found in knowledge, attitude and gay affirmative practice scores by sociodemographic variables or professional group. However, attitude scores towards lesbians and gay men were significantly negatively affected by conservative political affiliation (p = 0·038), held religious beliefs (p = 0·011) and frequency of praying (p = 0·018). Six overall themes were found as follows: respect, parenting role, implications for the child, management, disclosure, resources and training.

CONCLUSIONS: The study provided an in-depth analysis of the attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of professionals in two early parenting services, showing that work is needed to promote acceptance of diversity and the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families in planning, developing, evaluating and accessing early parenting services.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Access and inclusion plans for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families are crucial in early parenting services in Australia and should be included in professional development programmes.

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