The Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Interest Group is currently focusing on three key areas of interest: Policy statements on same-sex marriages and lesbian and gay parenting, and a revision of the guidelines for working with LGB clients.
In regards to parenting, the Interest Group has been involved in writing a literature review of research on LGBT-parented families. This has been an extensive project summarising this body of research that highlights the differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and heterosexual families, and which emphasises the positive findings for children who grow up with LGBT-parents. This is an important document for LGBT-parented families as it provides clear support for policy and legislative change on the basis of empirical evidence. The review, authored by Liz Short, Damien W. Riggs, Amaryll Perlesz, Rhonda Brown and Graeme Kane, can be accessed from the APS Public Interest website.
The issue of same-sex marriage has been introduced in Issue 2 of the GLIP Review, which includes a feature reprint from Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger on the topic, as well as an editorial by Damien Riggs inviting commentary. The Interest Group is planning on developing a literature overview of this area, and invites the involvement of anyone interested in working towards this goal. We are taking the position statement made by the American Psychological Association as our starting point. This can be viewed in pdf format via the following link.
GLIP is currently in the process of beginning work on reviewing and revising the current ethical guidelines for working with LGB clients. Proposed revisions include a new section on guidelines for research, consideration of issues facing transgender clients, and updating supporting references.
Special issue of 'InPsych' on gay and lesbian issues
The Interest Group was pleased to be involved with the production of the April 2006 issue of the APS bulletin 'InPsych', which focuses on gay and lesbian issues. Included in the issue are three feature articles: The lead article is by Daryl Higgins, President of the ALSO Foundation. Daryl's article focuses on a wide range of issues facing same-sex attracted people currently in Australia. The second article is by Damien Riggs, National Convenor of the Interest Group. Damien examines the role of the APS in relation to LGBTIQ rights advocacy. In the final article Warrick Arblaster looks at psychological components of the Australian Federal Police's gay and lesbian liason officer network training program. The InPsych issue also includes a report on the Interest Group's recent work. You can check out the issue via the APS website by clicking here. It is very encouraging that the APS is giving focus to the issues facing LGBTIQ people in such a prominent way, and congratulations are due to the InPsych team for producing such an excellent issue.
'Out in the Antipodes' publication and launches
Out in the Antipodes: Australian and New Zealand Perspectives on Gay and Lesbian Issues in Psychology
Edited by Damien W. Riggs & Gordon A. Walker.
Launches for the new book 'Out in the Antipodes' were held at the 2004 APS conference in Sydney by Gordon Walker, and by Damien Riggs at Imprints bookstore during the Adelaide 2004 Feast Festival. Both events were well attended, and the Adelaide launch benefited from guest speaker Sandra Kanck MLC who spoke with great enthusiasm about the book and its potential for making a significant contribution to understanding the lives and experiences of lesbians and gay men in Australia and New Zealand.
The book sold very well during 2004 and entered its second print run in 2005. Copies are now available via this website for $20 including postage - simply download, print and post the order form.
GLIP Conference: a day of celebration
The anniversary of the removal of homosexuality from the DSM and the diversity of the lesbian and gay community were the two mains themes at the APS Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology (GLIP) Interest Group conference entitled 'Changing their minds: celebrating our diversity'.
The one-day conference was held on Saturday, October 25 2003 at the Gryphon Gallery, Graduate Centre, Melbourne University. The title of the conference was influenced by the Academy Award nominee for best documentary 'Changing our minds' - the inspirational story of Dr Evelyn Hooker, whose work was instrumental in depathologising homosexuality.
The conference program comprised two keynotes, two symposia showcasing the research of Australian and New Zealand students, a practice forum on Internalised Homophobia and the documentary of Dr Evelyn Hooker.
The two invited keynotes were Dr Vivienne Cass and Dr Lynne Hillier, who entertained, challenged and inspired participants. Dr Cass, a Western Australian psychologist who has had a strong research and media profile for many years, challenged psychologists to get back into the game of examining and researching human sexuality and sexual orientation. She reflected that cultural and biological theorists (social constructionist and geneticists respectfully), have taken centre stage in the exploration of sexual attraction and orientation, and argued that psychologists should be adding their scientific voice to this area of investigation.
Dr Hillier from Latrobe University's Centre for Sex, Health and Society, celebrated the resilience and humour of young same-sex attracted people and how they develop safe places to explore, learn and discuss sexual orientation and attraction.
The diverse research showcased in the two symposia were well received and as one of the symposium presenters and conveners, Helen Fawkner, reflected: "It bodes well for the future when the student research work is of this calibre - not only theoretically strong but with much thought given to the practical and clinical applications of their work."
It may only be 30 years since homosexuality was depathologised, however it is somewhat comforting to observe debates in Australia centre around superannuation, conception and parenting, as opposed to whether lesbians and gay men should be imprisoned, lobotomised, castrated, or be given electric shock in order to change their sexuality. Sadly, this is not the case for gays and lesbians in other parts of the world.
Conference organising committee member