Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Should You Come Out to Your Social Work Grad Program?

I was putzing about on the Gay Christian Network earlier today and somebody indicated that she is working towards enrolling at a graduate college where she will earn her master's degree in social work. She has write up essays about herself in her applications. She is mulling over whether or not to come out to prospective colleges. She noted that she wants to intern with a program that serves LGBT populations while at school. Should she come out?

I have a degree in social work. I actually had to interview with professors to get into my program. Do you know what got me accepted into my social work program? Self-revelation.

I shared my professional experience working in a group home with mentally disabled adults and what I'd learned throughout that experience. I spoke about how my family struggled with poverty during my teen years and how we couldn't keep our home without support from our extended family and from food stamps. I talked about the addiction that one of my family members grappled with and how that affected my tolerance towards alcohol. I also talked about coming out as a young gay man and what I'd learned about myself, about my friends, about my family, and about my small town community because of that process.

I'm not a young man now. I didn't come out last year or even within the past decade. I came out in the early 90s at a Christian college in the middle of Iowa. Coming out didn't keep me out of my social work program. In some ways, it probably helped me. I mean, all of the above helped me.

This was a social work program. Anything that demonstrated professional and personal diversity and potential for understanding others helps you when applying for a social work program.

It was suggested by others that she should first tour the colleges and universities before coming out so that she could figure out if it's safe or not.

My thought? This is a social work program we are talking about here. Coming out won't hurt you. If it does at a particular grad program, then you really don't want to attend that college. And especially if you are planning to work with LGBT populations but the professors within the grad program freak if you come out, then you really don't want to attend that college.

1 comment:

D.J. Free! said...

Yeah, kind of a no-brainer. The only social work program I know of where it would be a liability for her to come out would be a very conservative Christian program - otherwise, it would be a MAJOR asset in all others.