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Queer Communities (Competency and Positionality)  

Michael P. Dentato

There is a critical and ongoing need for the expansion of competency among social workers related to understanding queer identities and issues related to positionality within queer communities. It is also important to continually examine the evolving terminology and context through which the term queer has been defined over the years and relevant challenges with connectedness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Age cohort associations and the role of intersectionality also have relevance and underscore the multidimensional discourse necessary to develop effective competency, and engage in affirming practice with queer communities. Social worker practitioners must understand the implications for best practices associated with establishing and maintaining an affirming therapeutic alliance with queer clients, as well as the continued need for research related to understanding the unique needs of queer identities and the queer community at-large.

Article

Queer Communities, LGBTQIA2S+ Populations, and Macro Practice  

Michael P. Dentato

Related to understanding queer identities, an ongoing need exists for the expansion of competency among social workers across micro and macro practice frameworks. Practitioners must be aware of their own positionality and use of cultural humility associated with practice and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities, which include those identifying as demisexual, omnisexual, and pansexual, among others. Relatedly, social workers must be attentive to evolving terminology and contexts through which the term queer has been defined over the years, as well as relevant challenges with connectedness to (or separation from) the larger LGBTQIA2S+ community. Age cohort associations and the role of intersectionality also have relevance and underscore the multidimensional discourse necessary to develop effective competency and the ability to engage in affirming macro practice with queer communities. Social work practitioners must understand the implications for best practices associated with establishing and maintaining an affirming alliance with queer clients via policy practice efforts, advocacy efforts, community organizing, service provision, or therapeutic context. In addition, there remains a continued need for ongoing research associated with understanding the unique needs of queer identities and the queer community at large.

Article

Sexual Orientation  

William J. Hall

Sexual orientation is a multidimensional phenomenon involving a person’s sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation identity. Sexual orientation patterns may remain consistent or fluctuate over time. Although heterosexual attractions, behaviors, and identities appear to be the dominant manifestations of sexual orientation, other sexual expressions exist. The causes of sexual orientation are still not completely understood; however, evidence suggests that biological factors play a strong role. Sexual development is an important part of human development, and there are parallel and differing developmental tasks and trajectories for those who are heterosexual and those who are queer. Non-heterosexual sexualities are often stigmatized, which contributes to homophobia and heterosexism. There is a continuing history in the mental health professions of efforts to change the sexual orientation of people who are queer, despite evidence of harm and ethical mandates. Researchers and service providers should assess sexual orientation because it is one of many important characteristics in the lives of individuals.