Teachers Helping LGBTQ Teens: The Role of Empathy, Attitudes, and Ally Identity

Jillian Dispoto Clayton, Fordham University


Empirical research notes that teachers are frequent sources from whom teens seek help for socioemotional issues; however, there is a lack of research on these concepts as related to high school teachers dealing with students seeking help for sexual identity issues. The current study aimed to assess if personal attitudes toward gay males and lesbians (homonegativity) moderate the relationship between helping characteristics (empathy) and a teacher’s competency to intervene (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender [LGBT] ally identity). Participants included 132 high school teachers working in New Jersey suburban school districts who completed anonymous online surveys measuring empathy (Empathy Quotient), homonegativty toward gay men and lesbians (Modern Homonegativity Scale), and their competency to intervene (Ally Identity Measure). To identify existing significant relationships between the selected variables, a multivariate correlation was tested. Results indicated that while there were significant relationships between (a) empathy and ally identity, and (b) homonegativity and ally identity, homonegative attitudes did not moderate the relationship between empathy and LGBT ally identity in a population of teachers. Findings denote that empathy continues to be the strongest predictor of LGBT ally identity, and accounts for higher levels of ally identity than personal attitudes. These results provide knowledge useful in developing teacher training to support LGBT students.

Subject Area

GLBT Studies|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Clayton, Jillian Dispoto, "Teachers Helping LGBTQ Teens: The Role of Empathy, Attitudes, and Ally Identity" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10281260.