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Gay social workers being ‘hounded out’ of the profession by homophobia according to survey

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  1. Rudehamster 13 Aug 2012, 3:25pm

    When I did Social Work at University, I was the ONLY gay man in the class. Over 90% were women and most were either Muslim or Pentacostal Christian.
    All refused to have me as a study partner and nobody would allow me to join a study group, because of my sexuality.
    There is only ONE book which mentions sexuality in the Social Work curriculum, and that is only one small paragraph.
    When I brought up the subject of gay men in a lecture, over a third of the class walked out in protest.
    I remember clearly, the lecturer asked a question about having a client with HIV or AIDS and the comments ranged from “this is the Devil’s work, I will not work with such people” to “these are sinners before God / Allah and I will not be amongst filth”.
    This was not challenged byt the lecturer, nor was the outright homophobia I faced from my classmates, many of whom even refused to speak to me. There were two complaints made by female class members to the Dean about a gay man [me] being a Social Worker

    1. Having just completed the social work degree I am afraid to say, not that much has changed. Whilst other students were not as vocal as refusing to work with openly gay students, there were comments from them (such as lesbians needing psychiatric help). The most saddening this is, these comments went unchallenged by the lecturer and the programme leader – who ironically are both gay.

      However, since I’ve worked in Children’s services and whilst I have been on placement I have not experienced homophobia at all.

  2. Rudehamster 13 Aug 2012, 3:33pm

    (cont) and about gay men having access to children & families. Whilst these complaints did not go anywhere, the complainants were not questioned about their hostile attitude to gay men.
    There has been a change in Social Work & Social Care over the last decade or so: Senior Social Workers are also unwilling to place male Social Workers with Children & Family cases…just in case of accusations which may bring the unit into the view of the press. This is based of prejudice & is causing many men, gay or straight to leave the Social Work field. What is left is a field heavily populated by religious women who see their job as a crusade, rather than one of public service.

    1. That’s horrible, what a vile bunch of people. Are you a social worker now?

    2. Dave North 13 Aug 2012, 5:09pm

      Then these people are not fit to be employed in these public facing tax payer funded positions.

    3. soapbubblequeen 13 Aug 2012, 7:11pm

      That’s a terrible experience. Did you every complain to anyone higher up the scale? That kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and is considered a serious breach of the code of conduct expected by students. If I had been the lecturer, I would have personally rapped the knuckles of each and every one of those little bigots, and told them that if they didn’t treat their fellow LGBT students with respect, then they wouldn’t be continuing with their degree course until they apologized.

  3. Robert Brown 13 Aug 2012, 3:33pm

    . . . see my comments on my website under the ‘interesting news articles’ section . . .

  4. Didn’t PN report this last week too?

  5. Social worker – someone who should understand support society. All of it. I still find it hard to believe that mental health professionals can still be homophobic too. They should all know better or be stripped of their qualification. Incidentally, I work in Equalities and know of someone working for an agency claiming to cover all strands, who have openly transphobic staff. What’s that about?

  6. I find this surprising and quite disturbing. What next? Atheism not being a bar to a career as a priest?

    Aren’t minority groups who may well be subject to discrimination and/or harrasment the sort of client groups that social workers should empathise with?

  7. I have now left the profession but experienced years of overt and covert homophobia, much of it unchallenged by managers and other social workers alike. As a newly qualified social worker I was driven out of the profession by a homophobic (and anti Semitic) care manager who managed to get me sacked (later legally challenged with a positive outcome), I didn’t return to C&F social work for 18 months, I worked around the country including London with no problems. I then began working in a predominantly child protection team and ended up with two homophobic manager one of whom refused to progress me to level three on spurious grounds when it was blatantly obvious she was being homophobic and the other who identified as a Christian openly stated he found the whole idea of homosexuality unnatural.
    Therefore, having experienced homophobia in one form or another for 16 years or so, I eventually left. So its no surprise that 40% feel this way.

    1. The 30% that say its not a problem are probably heterosexual …

  8. ps incidentally I then went on to work for a Sure Start project-guess what> they were even more homophobic!!

    1. Im not surprised … my partners family have had unpleasant experiences with surestart and their staff.

  9. Very interesting. I’d love to follow up and read the published report – when you do articles like this can you either publish the report’s name, or (as you often do) link to it?

  10. Christopher 13 Aug 2012, 11:05pm

    Well, in Canada, it seems gay men are the majority of male social workers… I have no proof, other than my circle of friends…

  11. As a severely disabled single parent, with a 24/7 care package, I have never dared to mention my sexuality in any assessments or reviews.

  12. GingerlyColors 14 Aug 2012, 7:25am

    Workplace bullying is on a par with the bullying that goes on in schools. Workplace bullies should be handed their P45’s. Bullying has been a problem within the organisation I work and it was not until an employee committed suicide in Birmingham that the management decided to take the problem seriously. Stable doors and horses come to mind here.

  13. GulliverUK 14 Aug 2012, 9:28am

    I do hope people here are not discussing the UK, but it seems you are.

    In which case; collect the evidence, present it to management, if they take no action, take it to court.

    I’m hoping Rudehamster’s experience was long ago and is not in any way current experience, like in the last 5-8 years. It’s good that it has been highlighted because I would have never imagine this is how social workers are, but unfortunately my estimation of their worth to society has now gone from high to very low.

    Please tell me this is the US, or the UK 20 years ago !!

  14. One of my friends was recently pushed out of a law firm because of his sexuality. It is very sad indeed and you should hear some of the things his bosses use to say to him. And surprisingly…all of it came from a muslim…

    1. Jen Marcus 14 Aug 2012, 1:51pm

      Was the person who was reduced an attorney and it happened in what jurisdiction,country, state,province?

      If it was a lawyer that was “rifted” I think that attorney should have “sued the bastards!”

      1. I am now retired from mental health social work which involved working in a heterosexist environment – ie – psychiatric hospital. Underpinning social work practice is anti-oppressive/discriminatory intervention so, as also a practice teacher, it is hard to understand how the students described by Rudehamster were qualified into the profession. It is frightening that such belief system will be carried into their social work intervention dealing with LGBT service users.

  15. Staircase2 14 Aug 2012, 7:14pm

    While Im sure theres a genuine issue with homophobia in social work (as, oddly, I hear there is in nursing too), the examples in the article aren’t particularly strong in support of that.

    If anything they appear almost weak padding to a genuinely real issue.

    Im sure there must be some more convincing examples of homophobia in the workplace than ‘would you like to be the fairy on the Xmas tree’…

    Similarly, I’m sure it wouldn’t come as any surprise to any social worker that they might have to deal with casual and ingrained homophobia with some of their clients…

  16. While I would want to understand all the pertinent facts, my initial reaction as that I do find the article disturbing and that the treatment given to Rudehamster, JuuJuu and samycaz unacceptable.

    I daresay some PN readers who have read some of my earlier comments, given from a conservative Christian perspective, might treat my remarks with a degree of scepticism.

    But can I suggest that we would do better to unite in order to try to eradicate some of the homophobia referred to in these readers’ comments and the original article.

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