Adoption by lesbian and gay parents is becomingly increasingly common. This entry presents an overview of the limited research that has focused on lesbian and gay adoptive parents. Specifically, this entry addresses the experience of adoptive parenthood for lesbian and gay parents, with emphasis on the decision-making process (that is, choosing adoption, choosing an agency, choosing an adoption type, and specifying child characteristics), the transition to adoptive parenthood, the psychological adjustment of the adoptive parents and their children, and the adoptive parent–child relationship. We end with recommendations for future research and implications for practitioners and policymakers.
Adoption: Lesbian and Gay Adoptive Parents
Abbie E. Goldberg and April Moyer
Laura S. Abrams
This entry explores past and present social-scientific lenses concerning bisexuality. The author traces the rise of a bisexual movement in the 1970s to present times. The entry concludes by addressing social work's limited contributions to understanding bisexuality and proposes trends and directions for future practice and research with diverse groups of bisexuals.
Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community
Betty Jo Barrett
Since the mid 1980s, a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature has examined the existence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Collectively, this research has suggested that IPV in rainbow communities occurs at rates comparable to those documented among heterosexual populations and results in similar detrimental psychological, social, and physical consequences for victims. Importantly, however, this work has also highlighted myriad ways in which the social and structural marginalization of gender and sexual minority populations create unique vulnerabilities for IPV that are not shared by cissexual and heterosexual individuals. This entry provides an overview of this scholarship to inform strength-based social work practice with and for LGBT survivors of domestic violence at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
Alex Gitterman, Carel B. Germain, and Carolyn Knight
Ecological concepts and principles enable social workers to keep a simultaneous focus on people and their environments and their reciprocal relationships, not only in direct practice with individuals, families and groups, but also in influencing organizations and communities and in policy practice. Ecological concepts emphasize the reciprocity of person:environment exchanges, in which each shapes and influences the other over time. Ecological concepts are reviewed.
Female Genital Mutilation
Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Evalyne Kerubo Orwenyo
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been portrayed in the literature as an inhumane practice and a form of human rights abuse. Young women and girls who undergo FGM are subjected to the risk of developing infections as well as gynecological and psychological complications. Where severe bleeding occurs, the risk of death is imminent. Although FGM has been decried as an unnecessary and harmful ritual, it continues to be practiced in many parts of Africa, some parts of Asia, and the Middle East. Beliefs about the benefits of FGM are deeply entrenched in tradition and culture, making it a difficult practice to eradicate. This entry aims to portray the cultural embeddedness of FGM as the main factor in preventing its eradication. The information reviewed in this entry can be used to provide a framework for social workers to understand personal and societal reasons for FGM. Furthermore, this entry provides information that could be used to guide social workers in formulating culturally appropriate interventions with FGM practicing communities.
Feminist Macro Social Work Practice
Cheryl A. Hyde
Feminist macro practice is based on principles derived from the political and social analyses of women’s movements in the United States and abroad. As a practice approach, feminism emphasizes gendered analyses and solutions, democratized structures and processes, diversity and inclusivity, linking personal situations with political solutions, and transformative actions. Feminist practice is in concert with a multisystemic approach; it complements and extends strength-based social work. It requires that the practitioner be relational and open to other ways of knowing and understanding.
Gay Men: Overview
James I. Martin
This entry explains who gay men are, how gay identity constructions have evolved since their inception, and how they continue to evolve. It also describes the health and mental health problems that gay men may present to social work practitioners. In addition, it identifies several social policies that are relevant to gay men. The entry argues that a systemic perspective that takes into account the social, political, and cultural influences on gay men is necessary for understanding the problems that such men commonly experience.
Gay Men: Practice Interventions
Robert L. Miller Jr.
This chapter explores salient concepts of social work practice with gay men. These concepts are described within a life cycle context. The illuminated concepts have been identified based on the biopsychosocial and spiritual developments in the social work literature related to this population since the printing of the 19th edition of the Encyclopedia of Social Work.
Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Gender identity and gender expression are aspects of personal identity that impact an individual across multiple social dimensions. As such, it is critical that social workers understand the role of gender identity and gender expression in an individual’s life. Many intersecting factors contribute to an individual’s gender identity development and gender expression, as well as their experiences interacting with individuals, communities, and systems. For instance, an individual’s race, geographic location, disability status, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, economic status, and access to gender-affirming healthcare are some of the factors that may impact experiences of gender identity and gender expression. Gender identity and expression are dimensions of diversity that social workers will interact with at all levels of practice. As such, it is important for social work educational institutions to ensure their students are prepared for practice with people of all gender identities and expression, while also understanding the historical context of the social work profession in relation to transgender populations and the ways in which the profession has reinforced the sex and gender binaries.
Global Gender Inequality
Melissa B. Littlefield, Denise McLane-Davison, and Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi
Mechanisms of oppression that serve to subordinate the strengths, knowledge, experiences, and needs of women in families, communities, and societies to those of men are at the root of gender inequality. Grounded in the strengths perspective of social work, the basic premise of the present discussion emphasizes gender equality as opposed to inequality. At the core of gender equality is the value of womanhood and the need to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls. Women’s participation in different societal domains including economic opportunities, political empowerment, educational attainment, health, and well-being are all impacted by their roles. Thus, structural weaknesses are major barriers for reforming efforts on global gender equality. Challenging traditional notions of gender, which is defined as behavioral, cultural, and social characteristics that are linked to womanhood or manhood, is the basis for achieving gender equality by attending to how these characteristics govern the relationship between women and men and the power differences that impact choices and agency to choose. Further, both equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are imperative for achieving gender equality among women and girls. Although progress has been made toward gender equality for many women, lower income women—as well as women who face social exclusion stemming from their caste, disability, location, ethnicity, and sexual orientation––have not experienced improvements in gender equality to the same extent as other women. Broad outcomes of gender equality around the globe include decreased poverty, increased social and economic justice, and better well-being and empowerment among men and women. Gender equality is a smart tool for economic development because it can remove barriers to access and enhance productivity gains in a competitive world.
HIV/AIDS: Practice Interventions
Kosta N. Kalogerogiannis, Richard Hibbert, Lydia M. Franco, Taiwanna Messam, and Mary M. McKay
For over 20 years, social workers have been involved in service delivery for HIV and AIDS infected and affected individuals. It is estimated that more than 1 million people are living with HIV or AIDS in the United States. The rates of HIV infections continue to rise, with more than 40,000 individuals being diagnosed each year in the United States. This entry explores the current trends in HIV primary prevention, secondary prevention, and counseling and psychotherapy services for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Human Needs: Family
Ruth Paris and Ellen R. DeVoe
In this entry we address the primary purpose of family in supporting the growth and development of individual members throughout the life course. Life cycle and attachment theories inform our understanding of how families function. Changing family patterns are addressed in terms of the variety of family forms, the multiplicity of needs as economies shift and life expectancy lengthens, family coping and adaptation to normative transitions and unexpected crises, and the influence of cultural and racial diversity. We conclude with brief comments on the issues for contemporary families and needs for the social work profession.
Laina Y. Bay-Cheng
This entry defines sexuality and identifies dominant explanatory models. In doing so, the entry outlines the central debate regarding the relative contributions of biology and social context. In addition, it highlights current key issues in the field of sexuality: the connection between sexuality and social inequality, the growing emphasis on the promotion of sexual health and well-being rather than just the prevention of sexual risk, the salience of sexuality across the life course, and the debate regarding sexuality education policy. Finally, it identifies parallels between these trends and social work, including the relation of sexuality to social work roles and practice.
This article summarizes the incidence of women in the United States who have been sentenced to prison as a consequence of a felony conviction for violation of state or federal laws. It also describes their characteristics and co-occurring health conditions; issues that contribute to women’s experiences after release from prison, including those that lead to success and failure during re-entry; and gendered practices and policies that provide alternatives to incarceration.
Income and Wealth Inequality
Reversing extreme economic inequality is one of the grand challenges for social work, identified as one of the most critical issues in the field. Two key types of economic inequality, income and wealth inequality are described. Although, wealth and income inequality are often discussed synonymously they have differing levels of inequality and impact clients’ lives differently. Perhaps more importantly, as this article describes, solving income and wealth inequality require differing solutions. The article further explores the specific income and wealth inequality experienced by women and people of color, due in part to discrimination. Lastly, the efforts of social workers to address economic inequality through research, practice, and advocacy are described.
Intersectionality and Social Work
Ann Marie Yamada, Lisa Marie Werkmeister Rozas, and Bronwyn Cross-Denny
Intersectionality refers to the intersection of identities that shape an individual’s standing in society. The combining of identities produces distinct life experiences, in part depending on the oppression and privilege associated with each identity. The intersectional approach is an alternative to the cultural competence model that can help social workers better address the unique and complex needs of their diverse clients. This entry provides a general overview of the historical and interdisciplinary roots of intersectionality and addresses its use as a theoretical perspective, methodology, mechanism for social change and social justice, and policy framework in social work. The role of intersectionality in social work policy development, teaching, and research will be presented with consideration of future directions and areas for further development.
Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse
Jill Theresa Messing
Intimate partner violence—the continual and systematic exercise of power and control within an intimate relationship that often also includes physical and sexual violence—has emerged as a significant and complex social problem warranting the attention of social workers. Risk and protective factors have been identified at the individual, family, community, and societal levels. Some of these risk factors for repeat and lethal violence have been organized into risk assessment instruments that can be used by social workers to educate and empower survivors. Intimate partner violence has multiple negative health and mental health consequences for female victims and their children. Social workers in all areas of practice should be prepared to intervene with victims of intimate partner violence in a culturally competent manner using a strengths-based framework.
Intimate Partner Violence and Reproductive Coercion
Amber Sutton, Haley Beech, and Debra Nelson-Gardell
Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects millions of individuals yearly, both domestically and globally. Direct linkages exist between experiencing IPV and adverse health outcomes. No matter the type of service arena, social workers encounter IPV; for that reason, all social workers need to be familiar with IPV, its consequences, and potential interventions. One form of IPV that is often undetected and underreported is reproductive coercion (RC). Reproductive coercion, a relatively new term, focuses on birth control sabotage and pregnancy coercion. Reproductive coercion is directly associated with IPV in that power and control are maintained by stripping away autonomy and decision-making ability concerning one’s reproductive and sexual health. Although many victims of IPV will experience this type of sexual abuse, RC is a less discussed form of violence and is often difficult to detect through traditional screening processes, further delaying effective intervention. Reproductive coercion affects the overall emotional, physical, and psychological health of survivors, therefore social workers need to be able to identify specific RC behaviors and know how to appropriately intervene and advocate. A thorough review of the existing literature on the link between IPV and RC has been organized into practical application methods that social workers can use to inform micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. All practice methods are designed to aid in reducing harm caused by RC and to help increase survivors’ control over their own bodies and reproductive health. Such applications will include screening for potential abuse, recognizing risk and protective factors, introducing culturally sensitive interventions, and policy implications and recommendations.
Islam and Social Work
During the 21st century, professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers have sanctioned standards for religious competence in social work practice and education. Social work practitioners and students are expected to receive training and education in spirituality. While content on Islam and Muslims is emerging in the professional literature, this is the first article in the Encyclopedia to explore the relatedness between the teachings of the Islamic faith and the social work profession. The Muslim population in the world, and in the United States specifically, is described briefly, along with an overview of intra-faith diversity. Social work practice with Muslims can be enhanced substantially when practitioners are aware of the worldview of Muslims and core Islamic values. In addition, practitioners should be familiar with Islamic teachings within a historical and professional context. Micro and macro level practice strategies and approaches are presented with a special emphasis on social work values and ethics. Lastly, practice principles for religion-sensitive practice with clients who self-identify as Muslims are delineated.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families and Parenting
Gerald P. Mallon
According to U.S. census data, an estimated 270,313 American children were living in households headed by same-sex couples in 2005, and nearly twice that number had a single lesbian or gay parent. Since the 1990s, a quiet revolution has been blooming in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. More and more lesbians and gay men from all walks of life are becoming parents. LGBT people become parents for some of the same reasons that heterosexual people do. Some pursue parenting as single people and others seek to create a family as a couple; still other LGBT people became parents in a heterosexual relationship. Although there are many common themes between LGBT parenting and heterosexual parenting, there are also some unique features. Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, who couple, get pregnant, and give birth, most LGBT individuals and couples who wish to parent must consider many other variables in deciding whether to become parents because the birth option is not the only option.