For LGBT youth, the world is full of hostility towards homosexuality and transgenderism. These messages are coming from schools, religious leaders and elected officials. Unlike many others who are the subject of intense bullying, though, there is the other problem that many LGBT youth do not have a safe haven at home.
A survey of some 10,000 LGBT youth aged 13 to 17 found that 92% of respondents had to face negative attitudes towards their sexuality or gender identity, and that they are more likely than their peers to feel isolated, unhappy, and experience verbal and physical harassment. They are also more likely to try doing drugs and alcohol.
Benjamin Siegel from the American Academy of Pediatrics stated “This survey is a call to action for parents and all adults who care for children and youth. We each have a role to play so that LGBT youth, in our communities and in our families, have the support they need to thrive and succeed.”
Michael Cole-Schwartz of the Human Rights Campaign said that what is most important for these children is to be accepted by their families. He also stated “Half of these gay teens say there’s not a single adult that they can turn to if they feel worried or sad. Not even about their identity, but just in general. That points to the fact that these kids feel alone and alienated, and they need someone to reach out to them and let them know that there’s a sympathetic ear.”
USA Today also reported:
But how can parents, and adults in general, make LGBT teens feel more comfortable in their community? It’s the little things as much as the big gestures, Cole-Schwartz says.
“If there’s an anti-gay joke on TV, do you say, ‘I don’t think that was appropriate,’ or do you laugh at it?” he asks. “That sends a signal of whether or not you’re going to be accepting.”
The big picture is letting teens know that you don’t view people differently simply because they are bisexual, homosexual, or transgendered.
“It doesn’t have to be about your family or your situation, but you can express things in a broader context,” such as news stories on marriage equality or LGBT rights, Cole-Schwartz says.
What is more, 56% of the teens surveyed were willing to come out to their fmaily even though 91% were out to their close friends. What is more, for 26% of the LGBT youth surveyed, rejection by their family was the most important problem they faced.
Cole-Schwartz stated: “The baseline is, you always have to love your child, and your child needs to know that they are loved. Even if this is a difficult issue for people to deal with … ‘I will love you no matter what’ is such a critical thing for young people to hear.”