School Counselor Sexual Minority Advocacy Competence Scale (SCSMACS): Development, Validity, and Reliability

Added April 5, 2018

The School Counselor Sexual Minority Advocacy Competency Scale (SCSMACS) is a measure with three subscales used to train school counselors about advocating for and with sexual minority students. Higher subscale and composite scores on the SCSMACS are indicative of higher levels of school counselor sexual minority advocacy competence, one’s ability to help sexual minority students in their respective school settings. As such, the SCSMACS is an administrative self-assessment tool used to help school counselor practitioners assess the degree to which they have been effective at counseling with regard to sexual minority issues. The availability and use of the SCSMACS by school counselor practitioners may increase the likelihood that school counselors will make use of best practices and action strategies after they review their scores on the SCSMACS, as well as the SCSMACS items. Recommended best practices have included challenging information (i.e., stereotypes) and harassment, trying to find common ground with others, learning about sexual minority people and their challenges, and training other school stakeholders.

In order to validate the SCSMACS, the measure was distributed online along with a demographic form (with items to assess age, full-time work status, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and state of employment), the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competence Scale (SOCCS; Bidell, 2012) and the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC; Worthington, Navarro, Savoy, & Hampton, 2008) Data were gathered from middle and high school counselors to conduct principal component analysis and to test the SCSMACS for reliability and validity. Support for test-retest reliability, content validity, construct validity, and criterion validity was found. Cronbach’s alpha for the measure was .96. The SCSMACS therefore appears to be a valid measure to use in training school counselors.

Convergent validity findings indicated that the SCSMACS shared themes with other scales but not at a level which would indicate that it measured all of the same areas and did stand alone as a measure itself. Next, correlations between SCSMACS subscales, the BALGBS, the LGBASES, and the LGBAAS-R were calculated. Correlations were found to be moderate which indicated that each scale assessed a distinct area of school counselor sexual minority advocacy competence. These areas were (1) school counselor beliefs about lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual women and men; (2) knowledge about school counselor advocacy for or with sexual minority students; and (3) skills about school counselor advocacy for or with sexual minority students at an individual level, a school level, and a community level.

The 59-item SCSMACS is comprised of (1) the 8-item Beliefs about Lesbian Women, Gay Men, and Bisexual Women and Men Scale (BALGBS), (2) the 5-item School Counselor Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Advocacy Self-Efficacy Scale (LGBASES), and (3) the 46-item School Counselor Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Advocacy Activity Scale-Revised (LGBAAS-R). As such, those who complete the measure will self-assess their attitudes toward sexual minority people, as well as how confident they are to advocate for and empathize with sexual minority students. They will also learn about the importance of having specific resources to share with others. Next, school counselor practitioners learn about the importance of school mission statements that incorporate aspects of academic, career, and socioemotional development. At the individual level, school counselors it is recommended that school counselors offer individual and group counseling, display symbols of support, and teach about identity development (including coming out), and the importance of confidentiality. At the school level, effective school counselors offer training programs, conduct program development and assessment, and use affirmative counseling techniques. Lastly, at the community level, school counselors consult with parents and other mental health professionals. They learn about and work with the following organizations: the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); GLAAD; and Parents and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people (PFLAG).

Jack D. Simons, PhD, Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY


Jack D. Simons, PhD