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LSU social work class studying discrimination against LGBT population

LSU social work class studying discrimination against LGBT population

POSTED: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 6:04am

LSU Associate Professor of Social Work Elaine M. Maccio and students in the “Social Work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People” course are working with Capital City Alliance, or CCA, to collect data on discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment and public accommodation.

CCA is a local nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for LGBT people and allies in the greater Baton Rouge area through education, advocacy, communication and community building.

In this course, social work students are training to better serve clients while gathering personal stories about discrimination for the service-learning project with CCA.

“By working with the population, students get to know the population,” Maccio said. “Students will benefit from talking with people who have experienced discrimination first-hand, and by collecting data students will be making a difference in the community.”

This study is the fourth service-learning collaboration between CCA and the School of Social Work, each of which has focused on researching the opportunities and challenges the LGBT population faces in Baton Rouge. Past projects have included quality of life surveys in 2007 and 2011, and a survey of private and public businesses’ domestic partner benefits and LGBT non-discrimination policies in 2009. CCA Education and Advocacy Committee Chair Matthew Patterson said that the quantitative data provided by these surveys was invaluable, but that the organization now needs to make the “abstract concept of ‘discrimination’ more concrete.”

“In order to help illustrate the fact that anti-LGBT discrimination is still a big problem, we wanted to have stories, not numbers, to help people make that personal connection,” Patterson said. “We hope that this project will show in a personal way the nature of what anti-LGBT discrimination looks like in Baton Rouge today.”

Social work graduate students are equally excited to get an opportunity for hands-on experience working with diverse populations.

“I want to learn the best practice measures when working with this community,” said Crystal Markins of Baton Rouge, one of the advanced-year MSW students enrolled in the course. “The most rewarding aspect of this course will be the final results and how they can be implemented for the betterment of the LGBT community.”

Classmate Ashley Scott, a second-year MSW student also from Baton Rouge, chose to take this course because of the one-on-one experience service-learning courses give students.

“I was excited to take a service-learning course that would give me direct exposure to a diverse community rather than a lecture-style course,” Scott said. “At the end of this course, I will have a tangible product to look back on that I can only hope will make a positive impact on Baton Rouge. It is extremely fulfilling to be implementing change in a community as a student, and I am excited about helping give a voice to the LGBT population in Baton Rouge.”

For more information on CCA or to get involved with this service learning project, visit

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