School Psychology Review

Committing to Social Justice: The Behavioral Intention of School Psychology and Education Trainees to Advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth

Paul C. McCabe, Florence Rubinson

pp. 469-486

Special Topic: Promoting Social Justice

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Abstract. The current study explored how graduate students in education, school psychology, and counseling are being prepared to help ensure an equal and safe learning environment for youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT). Focus groups were conducted with graduate students in a school of education that has made social justice a cornerstone of its conceptual framework. Focus group questions directed students to reflect on their knowledge and behaviors in addressing social justice issues in schools, and more specifically on issues pertaining to LGBT youth, such as antigay harassment and expression of sexual orientation for youth in schools. Responses were transcribed and organized using the constant comparative process. Broad response themes were organized using the framework of the theory of planned behavior (TPB). TPB postulates that our attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control predict behavioral intention and our subsequent behaviors. Results indicated that although the graduate students had strong positive attitudes to overall themes of social justice, such as race, class, or language, they revealed inadequate attitudes and knowledge of issues faced by LGBT youth. They reported an indifferent or unsympathetic subjective norm in reference to their school colleagues, and barriers to engaging in LGBT advocacy, including lack of administrative support. The TPB model provided a useful organizational framework with which to examine graduate students’ preparation and intention for proactive behavior change in schools.