Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Yvonne Chase


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are overrepresented in the homeless population and experience higher rates of discrimination and unfair treatment when accessing services and shelter. Research indicates that homeless LGBT youth remain homeless for longer periods of time than their heterosexual peers because of bias and stigmas associated with their gender identity and sexual orientation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine if social workers in the city of New Haven, Connecticut, used an affirmative model of intervention when working with homeless LGBT youth. Maslow’s self-affirmation theory served as the conceptual framework for this study. The interview questions for this study examined how social workers affirmed homeless LGBT youth in their practices. Data was collected through individual face-to-face semi-structured interviews, telephone interviews and e-mail responses with 7 social workers and agency staff in the city of New Haven, Connecticut, who were recruited through purposeful sampling. Emergent themes in this study indicated that the participants did not make assumptions about sexual identity. The participants also reinforced same gender relationships as being normal, addressed homophobia, and supported their clients. However, the participants lacked education and training about the stages of coming out and how to provide support to LGBT youth who may be experiencing stressors related to discovering or disclosing their sexual identity. The findings of this study may be used by social workers to improve practice to be more affirming and supportive of people who identify as LGBT.

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