Saturday, November 20, 2010
Fassingers’s Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development Summarized by Carol Macnichol
Overview of theory
Fassingers’s model of gay and lesbian identity development identifies two different processes that explain the development and attitudes of gay and lesbian (GL) individuals. The two processes are individual sexual identity development and group membership identity development. Both of these development processes each has four phases: awareness, exploration, deepening/commitment and internalization/synthesis. GL students can be at different phases of their development in both individual sexual identity and group membership identity (Evans et. al., 2010).
In the first phase, students become aware of the different types of sexual feelings and desires. This may lead to confusion and fear. As part of group membership identity, they discover that there are other people who are experiencing the same kind of sexual orientation. In the second phase, students start to explore their feelings of attraction towards an individual or individuals of the same sex. In this phase of group membership identity, students explore their relationships to the GL community. The third phase of deepening/commitment is where students have a stronger knowledge of self and commit to the identity of gay or lesbian. In group identity development, students develop a greater understanding of the values and oppression of the GL community and commit to be involved in such a community. In the last phase, students incorporate their sexual orientation into their overall self identity and accept themselves as part of the GL group. Identifying themselves as part of the GL community gives them feelings of security and acceptance.
Use in Higher Education
As discussed by Walters, Simoni and Valentine, it’s crucial for parents to be supportive with a son or daughter’s decision with anything they are going through. There must be a safe environment on campuses for “coming out” lesbian and gay students and for them to be social. Student affairs professional need to have a welcoming place in the academic advisor and career counselor’s offices, and partner’s comfort if have one for student’s wellbeing when they are dealing with change of their sexual identity. Not everyone does feel secure about their identity when they are “coming out” because there are many phases. Reduced homophobia, financial dependency, negative treatment on campus, fear of discrimination, inappropriate treatment by other students, tutors, and so forth must be prevented as much as possible.
The authors, researchers at the
University of California, , use the results from the modified form of Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) to study the correlation between the four psychological stages of preencounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization and self esteem of lesbian and gay men. They find that lesbian and gay men at preencounter stage have low self-esteem. As these people enter the encounter and immersion-emersion stages, they continue to suffer from low self-esteem, though the results were not significant. The group shows a high level of self-esteem in the internalization phase. Los Angeles
Development in college: Theory research and practice. (2nd ed., pp. 313-315)
: Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA
Walters, Katherine L. & Simoni, Jane M. (1993). Lesbian and Gay Male Group Identity
Attitudes and Self-Esteem: Implication for Counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 40(1), 94-99. Retrieved from http://www.unisa.edu.au/sleep/course_RIC/PDFfiles/Reading_extra3.pdf
Valentine, Gil & Wood, Nicholas & Plummer,Paul. (2009). The experience of lesbian,
gay, bisexual and trans staff and students in higher education (Research Report 2009). Retrieved from Equality Challenge Unit website: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/Experiences-of-lgbt-staff-and-students-in-he.doc/view