Parents of LGBTQ teen
Youth Potential Academy would like to make the first piece of advice very, very clear:
The Love for your child should be greater than your internal conflict.
As I write concerning this topic I am keenly aware of the sensitivity involved, yet, I understand that it is a topic that must be discussed. Many LGBTQ teens are faced with unique hardships and pressures that can cause damaging effects to their health, mental, and emotional well being. As an educator and advocate for adolescents, I’ve seen the horror of what happens to teenagers who are rejected, disowned, and abused because of their sexual orientation.
We must come together to answer and act on two questions:
A.) Are we as parents, educators, and youth workers aware of their unique challenges?
B.) Are we interacting with them in such a way that is detrimental to their mental, emotional, and physical well-being?
Youth Potential Academy writes this brief article with the intention of educating, hoping to build understanding, compassion, and tolerance. We should all want to ensure the safety of our youth regardless of their sexual orientation.
I believe together we can, together we will, because together we must change this!
Here are some suggestions:
A. You must be quiet and listen. It is very important to simply listen without responding in any way. This also includes being conscious and cautious enough not to display any body language which may show your disappointment. Any sign of this could possibly be taken as immediate rejection--having devastating results on their emotional and mental health.
Do not try to talk the youth out of their sexual orientation or say that it does not exist, as most of our youth are sure about their feelings by the time they decide to share it.
B. Feel Honored. Even if you don't understand or accept their important news, consider it a compliment and a blessing that they trusted you enough to reveal such an important aspect of their identity.
C. Thank them for sharing their intimacy with you, remind and reassure them that your Love will never change--no matter what! No matter what!
D. Be Normal. Gently and lovingly communicate and ask the same questions you would with a heterosexual child. Topics such as sex, relationships, and school issues are still important. Changing the tone and approach of your speech will reveal your possible confusion or disappointment. As much as confusion and disappointment may be natural, it may be taken as rejection by your child.
E. Respect their Privacy! Let it be their decision to tell other family members and friends. If they find out you revealed their secret, you invite betrayal and destroy trust.
F. Seek help. No one is asking you to change your core values and beliefs. It is understandable if you are confused or disappointed. It is ok and understandable if you are overwhelmed with the situation. You may feel like a failure, you may feel guilty, or even ashamed depending upon the circumstances. If this is the case, there are many resources that will help you cope. There are resources to help you understand and converse with your child. Youth Potential Academy will help you. (For a listing of services in your area, inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Why we must BE INvolved?
According to national statistics,
LGBTQ teens are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide and 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.
LGBT youth who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence are thre times more likely to use illegal drugs.
Half of gay males experience a negative parental reaction when they come out and in 26% of those cases the youth was thrown out of the home.
Studies indicate that between 25% and 50% of homeless youth are LGBT and on the streets because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Nearly a fifth of students are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.
About two-thirds of LGBT students reported having been sexually harassed (e.g., sexual remarks made, being touched inappropriately) in school in the past year.
The average GPA for students who were frequently physically harassed because of their sexual orientation was half a grade lower than that of other students.
The danger to them and to society is great. This letter is a call for all of us to do better. We must overcome our individual biases and learn how to be more compassionate, understanding, and active in countering these devastating statistics.
Our teens are killing themselves because of our reactions.
Together We Can, Together We Will, Together We Must
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From the Director
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