Let’s start with the definitions:
- Sexual orientation: Whether a person is attracted to a person of the same sex or a different sex. For example,
- Straight (or heterosexual): People who have sexual or romantic feelings for people of the opposite gender. Men are attracted to women and women are attracted to men.
- Gay (or homosexual): People who have sexual or romantic feelings for people of the same sex. Men are attracted to men and women are attracted to women.
- Bisexual (or bi): People who have sexual or romantic feelings for both men and women.
- Lesbian: Gay woman.
It is important to understand Homosexuality is not a mental disorder. All of the major medical organizations, including The American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that homosexuality is not an illness or disorder, but a form of sexual expression.
No one knows what causes a person to be gay, bisexual, or straight. There probably are a number of factors. Some may be biological. Others may be psychological. The reasons can vary from one person to another. The fact is, you do not choose to be gay, bisexual, or straight.
This is a time your child needs your support and understanding, but first you must take the time to educate yourself and understand it yourself. Stop looking to blame someone, including yourself, your spouse, a relative or a friend. This is about supporting and loving your child.
There are resources for parents to learn about LGBTQ. According to The National Prevention Dropout Center/Network, a study in April 2015 reported 80 percent of gay and lesbian youth live in severe isolation. Be there for your teen.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience difficulties in their lives and school environments, such as violence, bullying and cyberbullying.
LGBTQ youth are also at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
Local therapy is always available if you need a counselor to help your family through this. If you feel your teen is struggling and not able to overcome negative feelings and behavior, contact us for more information.
Sources: HealthyChildren.org, CDC.gov, Trevor Project