Saturday, January 3, 2009

Family can help "save" gay youth

Not necessarily about conversion therapy. :-) But a new study proves that a family's acceptance of their child's sexual identity dramatically decreases the risk of that child committing suicide.

From the article:
Young gay people whose parents or guardians responded negatively when they revealed their sexual orientation were more likely to attempt suicide, experience severe depression and use drugs than those whose families accepted the news, according to a new study by researchers at San Francisco State University. The study also found that the way in which parents respond to a youth's sexual orientation profoundly influences the child's mental health as an adult.

Among other findings, the study showed that teens who experienced negative feedback were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide, nearly six times as vulnerable to severe depression and more than three times at risk of drug use.

The ongoing work at San Francisco State suggests that parents who take even baby steps to respond with equanimity instead of rejection can dramatically improve a gay youth's mental health outlook.

Though it seems like a big old duh, it's important because of the whole "gay people commit suicide and are therefore unhealthy" argument that tends to float around the right. No, gay people aren't unhealthy because they're gay. Gay people are unhealthy because we reject them as youth and thus make them unhealthy.

So, Pat Robertson, it's all your fault.

And let me remind all my readers of all the invaluable work that HopeLine (1-800-SUICIDE)  does to prevent suicide for teens, not to mention the amazing stuff that goes on over at the Trevor Project (866-4-U-TREVOR) for gay teens. If you have some spare cash this year, or have some "unused funds" for Christmas donations, here are two possible and excellent places for that money to go.

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