CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Dr. Dorothy McClellan, Regents Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is a principal investigator on an international study titled "Criminal Justice Students' Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men,” that has received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Croatia.
"A fundamental principle of a just legal system is that it provides equal protection under the law to all its citizens. Personal prejudices and negative attitudes toward homosexuals can influence a professional's capacity to protect the rights of vulnerable groups,” said Dr. McClellan. “Research results will serve as an evidence base for proposing strategies to address the issue of fair and just treatment of homosexuals in the justice system, and for improving criminal justice education and training.”
The study was conducted via online survey. In the first three weeks of March 2015, Dr. McClellan recruited 230 Texas criminal justice student participants, many of them from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Other survey participants come from around the United States, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, China, Taiwan, Great Britain, Sierra Leone, and other countries. “Few studies have been conducted on this subject, and none have as broad an international and cross-cultural scope as ours,” Dr. McClellan commented.
Dr. McClellan was a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholar in Croatia from 2002 to 2004. She was also awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant in 2012 to work with the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Criminology and Rehabilitation. The other members of her research team are Dr. Irma Kovco-Vukadin, Professor of Criminology at the University of Zagreb, and fellow-Fulbright Scholar Phyllis Gerstenfeld, J.D., Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Stanislaus.
“We believe that the results of this study may suggest reforms to criminal justice education and training in order to achieve fair treatment of LGBT people and reduce their victimization,” said Dr. McClellan. "An element of this study is to understand and influence criminal justice professionals' attitudes and behavior, to bring both in line with the highest contemporary standards of human rights. To that end, we hope to develop criminal justice curriculum that will reach classrooms and training centers around the world."