Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Danica G. Hays

Committee Member

Tim Grothaus

Committee Member

Tammi M. Milliken


While professional and social advocacy is an important component of school counselor training, there is little information about the awareness, skills, or knowledge needed to effectively meet the academic, career, and social needs of LGBTQ students (Smith & Chen-Hayes, 2004). The purpose of this study was to evaluate and examine the impact of Safe Space training on Professional School Counselors (PSCs) and School Counseling Trainees (SCTs). In this experimental design, a sample of 74 PSCs and SCTs from three universities and one school district participated in 1 of 7 Safe Space trainings. The Safe Space training, developed by The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network (GLSEN), is a three hour program designed to educate participants about LGBTQ related issues and to provide strategies for support and intervention (2006). Program effectiveness was measured using the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS) (Bidell, 2005).

Results indicated that an overall significant change in participants' awareness, knowledge, and skills for working with LGBTQ individuals (i.e., LGBTQ competency) occurred. When LGBTQ competency components were examined separately, only the participants skills were significantly increased. Correlations examining the relationship between the awareness of sexism and heterosexism (POI subscales; Hays, Chang, & Decker, 2007) and knowledge, attitudes and skills were all found to be significant. Demographic variables were also examined in this study (e.g. number of perceived LGBTQ clients seen and gender) and were not supported. Implications of these results are discussed.