Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation in Social Work: Tackling the tough questions

by Adrienne Dessel, PhD

The work involved in “Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation in Social Work: Privilege, Oppression and the Pursuit of Human Rights” seems to have only widened in terms of where we are in the U.S. with regard to oppression, privilege, and human rights. While we now have a recent Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality legal nationwide, the backlash of anti-LGBT legislation ranges from Title X rulings granting waivers to ban LGBT students to the state of Tennessee ruling that therapists with “sincerely held principles” can legally refuse to see LGBT clients. There seems to be a widening of the gap in religious circles too in terms of how social workers are dealing with these issues. This book takes a look at the many facets of Christianity with regard to LGB issues, a biblical, methodological, and ethical analysis, and ways to transform the conflict through intergroup dialogue and other methods. Issues such as referring out and how to mediate some of the tensions are key, as well as ways to be both Christian and affirming.

About the author:

Adrienne Dessel, PhD, LMSW is Co-Associate Director of The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) and Lecturer in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. Her community consultations include social justice education for public school teachers, and evaluation of LGBT education services. She teaches courses on intergroup dialogue facilitation, the social psychology of prejudice and intergroup relations, and global conflict and coexistence. Her research focuses on intergroup dialogue processes and outcomes, on topics of Arab/Jewish conflict, religion and sexual orientation, gender, and dialogue facilitator learning. Her recent co-edited book is Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation In Social Work: Privilege, Oppression, and the Pursuit of Human Rights.

You can reach her at