Over 1,500 animal species participate in homosexual behavior (http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx), yet humans seem to be the only species who seems to have an issue with sexual practices that stray from the “norm” of heterosexuality. The idea of sex for purely procreation reasons is an outdated one, yet it still seems to infiltrate many social media outlets and even politicians debate the morality of same-sex relationships.
The sexual continuum, as suggested by Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin (1948) suggests that sexuality is even more complex than many realize. The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale consists of a range from 0 (exclusively heterosexual), to 6 (exclusively homosexual), with a myriad of degrees of sexual preferences located along the scale. The scale portrays just how intricate individual sexuality can be, and just like humans, varies greatly.
Another, and a bit more complicated way of measuring sexuality is the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid. While it does share the varying degrees of sexuality like in the Kinsey Scale, the Klein takes into account several different variables of interest. These include sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, heterosexual/homosexual lifestyle, and self identification (Klein, 1993). Additionally, the Grid takes into consideration the past, present, and ideal sexual identity categories of the individual, thus indicating that in some, sexuality is fluid.
Legal and Ethical Considerations of Homosexual Clients
In theory, mental health workers should treat every client like a human being, allowing full access to the quality care they deserve. However, this has not always been the case, which has led to legal implications for those who refuse to offer services to homosexual clients. A student in the counseling program at Eastern Michigan Universtiy was expelled from her program due to her refusal to counsel a gay client in 2009 (http://abovethelaw.com/tag/julea-ward/). However, a recently proposed bill in Tennessee (HB 1185) would prohibit universities from taking disciplinary actions against students in counseling programs who refuse to see LGBT clients, citing religious objections (http://openstates.org/tn/bills/108/HB1185/documents/TND00022457/). So, it appears that counselors can in some cases legally refuse to offer services to clients who identify as LGBT, but it still remains unethical, as the refusal to treat can in some cases, inflict more harm (Hermann & Herlihy, 2006).
Multicultural Competency and Sexual Orientation
Multicultural competency addresses all aspects of who a person is, which encompasses their heritage, racial background, religious affiliation, and their sexuality. While there may be some counselors who object to same-sex relationships based on their own beliefs, there are steps that they can take to better prepare them to offer assistance to a wider variety of clients. Such steps include class activities, discussions, and continual learning in a safe environment (Charles, Thomas, & Thornton, 2005). Neglecting to include sexual orientation in multicultural training is a disgrace, especially within the marriage and family therapy (MFT), as not all couples that seek counseling are heterosexual.
1,500 animal species practice homosexuality. (2006, October 23). Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx
Charlés, L. L., Thomas, D., & Thornton, M. L. (2005). Overcoming bias toward same-sex couples: A case study from inside an MFT ethics classroom. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 31(3), 239-249. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2005.tb01566.x
Hermann, M. A., & Herlihy, B. R. (2006). Legal and ethical implications of refusing to counsel homosexual clients. Journal of Counseling and Development, 84(4), 414-418.
Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.
Klein, F. (1993). The bisexual option. New York: Harrington Park Press.
Lat, D. (2012, February 6). Julea Ward « Above the law: A legal web site – News, commentary, and opinions on law firms, lawyers, law schools, law suits, judges and courts + career resources. Retrieved from http://abovethelaw.com/tag/julea-ward
Open States (n.d.). Bill Text - HB 1185 - Tennessee 108th Regular Session (2013-2014). Retrieved from http://openstates.org/tn/bills/108/HB1185/documents/TND00022457/