Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Douglas Crews


The proliferation of bias and prejudicial attitudes towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) community have been studied and empirically recognized throughout modern history. School social workers, as the school-to-home mental health liaison, have a duty to protect and support vulnerable populations of students. Research supports the overarching need for specific support provision for young LGBTQ children as they often report not feeling safe or supported within educational settings, leading to an overall decreased sense of wellbeing. This study, based on critical race theory as well as normative theory and democracy, used qualitative semistructured interviews with six elementary and middle school social workers who worked in Southeast Louisiana school districts to determine what perceived barriers may preclude their ability to provide services to young LGBTQ students. Eight major barriers are discussed: (a) time; (b) lack of LGBTQ-specific education; (c) heteronormativity built into the school system; (d) administration, teacher, and parental barriers; (e) children’s understanding and ability to express themselves; (f) policies and procedures; (g) geographic location barriers; and (h) religiosity and political barriers. Participants collectively voiced a concern with lack of education for all persons within the educational arena. Understanding the perceived barriers when attempting to provide mental-health services to young LGBTQ students is a step towards positive social change by coordinating efforts to recognize and respond to the unique needs of young LGBTQ children within the school setting and toward making the world a more equal and better place for all students.

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