Reading this LGBTI report just confirmed things that I already knew and alerted me to issues that I had never thought about enough. For instance, the report states that the criminalization of LGBTI people in terms of expression, association, and identity is one of the biggest obstacles for protecting this population (Agency, 2015). This can make it hard for someone to come out and be who they are. In terms of outreach efforts, I learned how important it is for LGBTI people to have some safe zones where they can express themselves and be who they are.

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This is even harder for people in countries such as Russia, where being gay and showing same-sex public displays is punishable by fines for both individuals who are LGBTI and the people who support the community (Grekov, 2013). That puts much emotional and mental strain on LGBTI youth who are still trying to find themselves in a harsh world. I am comforted that 80% of SOGI offices place a great priority on helping LGBTI refugees find a new place to live (Agency, 2015).

A social worker is a seeker of justice for every race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. It is essential that social workers recognize the obstacles and discrimination that many LGBTI people face in their everyday lives. These are issues that some of their LGBTI clients may face that may be causing them much distress. Therefore, helping gay clients manage their feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression in relation to being an LGBTI person is needed to restore mental health. LGBTI youth are also more likely to engage in substance abuse versus heterosexual youth. Social workers have the power to work to change laws and may be called upon to create programs that can help oppressed populations. This includes anti-bullying programs, laws to combat discrimination, and substance abuse programs. The process of being transgender is also a challenge. They are the group that faces the most discrimination in the LGBTI community.

In terms of social workers on an international level, social workers need to know how people around the world are being treated. How one country treats its LGBTI population can lead the way for other nations in both positive and negative ways. Therefore, it is necessary for social workers to understand laws and tactics that are oppressing this population. For instance, India has laws in place that bans same-sex affection and enacts punishments for being gay. In countries, such as Ecuador, it was common practice to expose LGBTI people to torture clinics that dowsed gay people with urine and burned them to convert them to the heterosexual orientation. Some of these clinics may still exist. When we know about these practices, as social workers we need to do what we can to stop it.

Some skills that are needed to be an advocate include lobbying for laws to be changed and writing to local and national politicians who can change laws. Doing special in-services in schools on LGBTI issues that affect kids is another way to be an advocate. One can also help to start LGBTI groups, such as GSA’s, support groups, or coming out groups for youth in schools and the community. Conducting presentations on what constitutes bullying, the process of coming out, and issues that LGBT people face is needed. A social worker must also be able to perform research and use evidence based practices on LGBTI people who are struggling. One must also understand this population through direct practice and studying local communities. It is also important for a social worker to be able to put LGBTI individuals in touch with gay community resources and other gay people who have a similar background, i.e. transgender individuals who are in the process of transitioning and gay couples raising children.