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REGISTERED NURSES’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PROTECTION OF GAYS AND - page 128 / 161

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great enhancement for social equality on a much greater scale than simply the workplace itself.

Finally, this study implies a great deal of application to gay and lesbian psychology education. As discussed in the literature review, the earliest psychological theories explaining homosexuality often used a pathological perspective to describe gay and lesbian behavior. While the current belief among the American Psychological Association is far different than the original beliefs of homosexuality as a mental illness, many of the negative effects of these beliefs are still present. Psychology students need to be highly trained in the ethics of conducting research on vulnerable populations. As discussed, research with gay and lesbian samples is difficult because of social stigma, fear of being exposed as homosexual, and dread from a possible lack of anonymity (Schoenewolf, 2004).

Registered nurses are trained in basic psychology; this knowledge serves as a foundation for future psychiatric education and clinical experience. Introducing general psychology students (not all of whom may in fact be psychology majors) with the current psychological perspectives regarding homosexuality could increase tolerance and acceptance. In addition, educators should emphasize the negative psychological distress placed on individuals who are subject to harassment and discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation along with the increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders such as depression and suicide among GLBT persons (Van Wormer, et. al, 2000).

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