Social workers are sometimes faced with the challenge of delivering care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people. The LGBTQ community is often oppressed as compared to heterosexual communities (Dentato, 2018). This kind of discrimination should be addressed since everyone has the freedom of either becoming heterosexual or homosexual. Psychologists and ethical codes should not support discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. In some communities and countries, discrimination goes to the extent of denying homosexuals basic human rights. Recent research has shown that Trans-phobia and homophobia are major problems that affect most social workers all over the globe (Deschamps & Singer, 2016). Lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender people usually face serious attacks and abuse in various countries. The social worker should ensure that the LGBT community is not stigmatized.
Laws that view homosexuality as a serious offense are still effective in some countries. These laws are among the major contributors to the discrimination based on sexual orientation. Social workers must take the initiative to ensure that such discriminations are minimal (Dentato, 2018). This paper looks into how a social worker’s personal, ethical, and moral values in relation to the LGBTQ community might conflict with those of their clients. It also describes how prejudice and bias might create barriers to fulfilling one’s professional responsibility to the LGBTQ community.
Social workers face a lot of challenges when attending to LGBT clients due to the conflict between personal and professional ethics and values. There are various circumstances in which a social worker’s personal ethics and values may clash with that of the LGBT client. For instance when the social worker does not believe in the same-sex relationship and he or she has to discourage the client from engaging in such a relationship (Fraser & Matthews, 2008). In this case, the social worker’s personal values will be in conflict with professional ethics and values. The worker has to choose one value over the other (Fraser & Matthews, 2008). In addition, one may find it difficult to deal with the sexual minority group based on their religious beliefs and the societal ethical perspective of the homosexuals.
Almost all the religious groups’ perceive homosexual as an abominable action. For instance, Christianity advice their members not to associate with homosexual actions (Deschamps & Singer, 2016). The same is observed in most societies. Therefore, most social workers personal values and ethics clash with their professional values regarding the LGBT community whenever they want to make a decision concerning the best action to take. Social workers are, therefore, advised to put aside their personal beliefs and ethics in order to do their work in a fair manner.
Personal Values and Ethics are a person’s beliefs and code of conduct. These personal values and ethics define one’s characteristics (Fraser & Matthews, 2008). They design how one behaves and who the person actually is. Besides, a person’s values and ethics can be determined by various factors such as religion, culture, and ones attitude among other beliefs. These values are often created from birth and one grows with them throughout their lifespan. Family and friends often play the larger part of instilling such values and ethics into an individual’s life. According to Gehlert & Browne (2012), personal values comprise the preferences, beliefs, opinions, desires, and ideologies of a person. One unique nature of personal values is that they often change as a person moves from one society to another. They can also change when one changes his or her religion (Gehlert & Browne, 2012). Another way in which personal values may change is through life experiences, their understanding of people. and political influences.
Professional ethics, on the other hand, are formal guidelines for social workers. Every social worker must adhere to these values. They often introduce an individual into a professional career or organization (Gehlert & Browne, 2012). Professional values are important since they provide a culture which is intended to improve practice. They also create what is considered as an acceptable conduct. Professional values and ethics ensure that social workers perform their services in a manner that safeguards the client’s privacy. They also ensure that clients are attended to equally without discrimination. For instance, according to (Fraser & Matthews, 2008), a social worker has an obligation to observe the human well-being to address the basic needs of all people. For instance, the British Association for Social Workers (BASW) code of ethics consists of human dignity and worth, service to humanity, integrity, social justice, and competence (Gehlert & Browne, 2012). Therefore, in social work with the LGBT people, professional ethics and values enable the social worker to assist individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.
The distinction between personal and professional values and ethics relates to the scenario described above. For instance, a social worker may fail to attend to an individual who belongs to an LGBTQ community because he or she does not believe in homosexuality (Fraser & Matthews, 2008). Additionally, one’s religious belief and societal ethics may be in contradiction with the LGBT belief. These beliefs are personal values which guide individuals on what they should or should not do. Therefore, the personal values determine the actions taken in the scenario when a social worker’s beliefs may clash with that of an LGBT client.
In most situations, prejudice and bias may be a barrier for a social worker to fulfill his or her professional obligations to the LGBTQ community. For instance, most homosexuals often face stigmatization from health workers (Fraser & Matthews, 2008). There have been reported cases where the LGBTQ people face harassment from social workers. Additionally, homosexuals face harassment by the heterosexual social workers. All these are as a result of prejudice and bias. These actions instill fear into the LGBTQ community preventing them from coming out to their health providers (Editors of Salem Press, 2014). Another way in which prejudice and bias will jeopardize a person’s professional duty to the LGBTQ community is the less attention given to homosexual students pursuing social work in the colleges (Editors of Salem Press, 2014). Therefore, prejudice and bias to the homosexuals should be fought at all cost to bring fairness among all humanity.
To sum everything up, the LGBTQ community has been facing a lot of discrimination in society. Social workers have the responsibility of introducing social change and promoting social justice for the clients. When carrying out social work, one has to put aside personal values and adhere to professional ethics. The professional values give a uniform way of providing services to clients regardless of their sexual orientations. This is helpful because social workers encounter several occasions when personal, moral, and ethical values may conflict with LGBT clients. Social workers should avoid prejudice and bias, especially to the homosexuals in order to perform their roles professionally.
Dentato, M. P. (2018). Social work practice with the LGBTQ community: The intersection of history, health, mental health, and policy factors. New York: New Press.
Deschamps, D., & Singer, B. L. (2016). LGBTQ stats: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people by the numbers. New York: New Press
Editors of Salem Press. (2014). Prejudice, bias & discrimination. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press.
Fraser, S., & Matthews, S. (2008). The critical practitioner in social work and health care. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University.
Gehlert, S., & Browne, T. A. (2012). Handbook of health social work. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.