John Suler's Teaching Clinical Psychology
- Attitudes about Homosexuality -
Before discussing any of the psychological theories or research on homosexuality, I first lead the class through this exercise. I divide the students up into small groups and write the following statements on the board:
- Homosexuality is normal.
- Having a homosexual friend or neighbor is OK by me.
- It's OK for homosexuals to be teachers, including teachers of children.
- Families with homosexual parents should be portrayed in some children's books.
- Homosexuals should be allowed in the military, including combat divisions.
- It's OK for homosexuals to get legally married, and receive the legal benefits of being married.
- It's OK for homosexual couples, or even single homosexuals, to raise children.
- I would vote for a homosexual who was running for president.
- It would be OK by me if one or more of my children were homosexual.
- It would be OK by me if I found out that my parent was homosexual.
I ask the groups to discuss each statement and then take a vote as to whether their group: (1) agrees with it, (2) disagrees, or, (3) cannot reach a decision about the statement. With groups of 4 - 7, I usually define "agree" as a consensus or one person disagreeing, "disagreeing" as a consensus or one person agreeing, and everything else as "cannot reach a decision."
When all the groups are finished, I tabulate on the board all of the groups' votes for all the statements. I lead a class discussion as we go along. Although many students are generally accepting of homosexuality, the responses to the statements often reveal more subtle attitudes and preconceptions. This exercise never fails to generate a lively exchange among the students. As the tabulation and discussion proceeds, I take the opportunities that arise to inject bits of theory and research findings - including the fact that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not include homosexuality in any category of pathology.
back to the In-Class Exercises page
back to the Teaching Clinical Psychology home page