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Survey of New Mexico School Health Professionals Regarding Preparedness to Support Sexual Minority Students

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  • We obtained support from the University of New Mexico Clinical and Translational Science Center, #1UL1RR031977.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

For schools to be safe and supportive for students, school health professionals should be aware of the particular challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) students face, especially the risk for discrimination, violent victimization, and depression in the school setting. We assessed school health professionals' preparedness to address needs of LGBTQ students.

METHODS

We conducted a secondary analysis of data collected during a New Mexico school health conference. This analysis focused on the preparedness of 183 school nurses, counselors, and social workers to address needs of LGBTQ students. Data were analyzed by using chi-square tests, other non-parametric tests, and logistic regression.

RESULTS

Social workers (84.6%) and counselors (81.5%) were more likely than school nurses (55.8%) to report moderate or high knowledge of LGBTQ youth health risks, including suicide and depression (p < .001). Approximately half of school counselors and social workers reported no or low knowledge of LGBTQ community-based organizations or knowledge of counselors experienced with LGBTQ concerns.

CONCLUSION

School health professionals in New Mexico do not appear prepared to address needs of LGBTQ students. Schools should consider integrating specific content about LGBTQ health risks and health disparities in trainings regarding bullying, violence, cultural competency, and suicide prevention.

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