Homosexuality used to be a diagnosable mental health disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The diagnosis was removed in 1973 after the movements that occurred in the 60s and 70s as well as after research on sexuality was completed by Alfred Kinsey. His research demonstrated that not only does sexuality fall on a continuum, but that homosexuality can be found across cultures.
Some Native Americans, to include the Navajo, honored those who did not conform to traditional gender roles. The Navajo believed that these individuals had two spirits dwelling in one body. When settlers came to America, the Navajo were often forced to accept the traditions of the settlers causing the concept of two spirited individuals to be ignored. Today the Native American population is working towards reviving the concept of two spirited individuals and educating the public through writing and documentaries.
Despite societal changes and the removal of the diagnosis of homosexuality from the DSM, the LGBTQ community continues to face many barriers to treatment. Many in the LGBTQ have experienced rejection or feelings of isolation when others have responded to them negatively due to myths and stereotypes about the LGBTQ community. Individuals may have also experienced hate crimes or have had difficulty reporting sexual assault or domestic violence for fear that the responder may not be supportive or educated on how to provide for his or her needs. These are just some of the many barriers to treatment that the LGBTQ community faces on a daily basis.
An individual should never be prevented from receiving needed services due to discrimination. Here at RCASA, we work to create a safe space by breaking down the barriers that minorities may feel when in need of services. Everyone deserves respect and we encourage you to help those who may need services break down those barriers as well. You can help break down barriers by becoming educated, by just listening without judgment or advice, by respecting confidentiality but not shaming the person by making the person feel as though they should be secretive and cannot talk to you, and by inquiring how you can be supportive to the individual and offering that support.
Information in this blog was taken from:
- · http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/topics/life/gay.html#affirmation (I encourage you to explore this site as it provided a lot of useful information in regards to the LGBTQ community and counseling services)
- · A diversity course taken at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD
- · http://www.aglp.org/gap/1_history/
- · http://news.change.org/stories/gay-native-americans-reclaim-two-spirit-culture