Teens, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

November 22nd, 2008

Sometimes when adolescents show behaviors and interests that differ from their peers, parents are ecstatic.  A physics genius, an interest in reading and writing rather than Wii!  Things like this excite parents.  When a teen shows affectional and sexual interest in their same-sex or when boys “act like girls” and girls “like boys” – well, this is when parents and caregivers often times get confused or concerned.

Teenagers can start feeling unaccepted, which can lead to many problem behaviors, including depression, withdrawal from the family, and other, more severe issues.  In fact, the statistics for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning) youth are jarring.  They are more at risk for suicide, smoking, drugs & alcohol, homelessness, and harrassement.  LGBTQ youth are also more at risk of dropping out of school.  A parent has a right to be concerned.

Parents wonder – how can such a young person know if she or he is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?  Aren’t they too young?  Too inexperienced?  Some parents just don’t know how to deal with this situation, even though they love their child deeply.  It may even go against a parent’s religious beliefs – putting into question their child’s destiny.

Help is out there!  Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) offers a host of resources for parents learning how to support and be present for their children.  There are other resources as well.

I, too, have strong experience working with parents – helping them make decisions that honor their most basic dreams for their children, while respecting the inherent humanity and individuality in their teenager.  I have worked to bring same-sex attracted and gender-variant adolescents and their parents closer, after a split has occured. 

Call me at 202/460-6384 if you would like to talk about any of these issues.  I can help.

Comments are closed.