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Fam Process. 1996 Sep;35(3):377-88.

Working with lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: addressing heterosexism in supervision.

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  • 1Department of Child and Family Development, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-3622, USA.


Heterosexism is a form of multicultural bias that has the potential to harm both clients and supervisors. Supervisors are encouraged to examine their own heterosexist lens as a first step in providing a safe environment in which supervisors can challenge their own heterosexism. The issue of heterosexism is first discussed from an ethical vantage point. The second section of the article examines four facets of heterosexism (discrimination, lack of knowledge, stereotyping, and insensitivity) and how they might be exhibited by the supervisor in the supervision arena. Special topics discussed in this section include: the possible consequences of "coming out" in the supervisory context; the presence of heterosexism in the foundational family systems theory; the need for recognition of the special family characteristics of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals; the value of personal and professional relationships with persons who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual; common heterosexist stereotypes and research that refutes them; and the use of language. The final section of the article offers suggestions for working with supervisors around these issues.

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