Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Support and Love: Family is Key to Youth Health

This shouldn't sound like rocket science: LGBT youth who are raised in families that support them have less mental health issues than youth whose families do not accept them as they are.

PFLAG parents know this more than any other group. Yet, in the nation at large, many myths persist - such as the fantasy many parents have that they can "change" their children or that it might just be a "phase." But nonacceptance and/or hostility to a LGBT youth by family can have devastating consequences.

Yesterday, in a journal of the Academy of American Pediatrics, the results of a study performed by researchers at San Francisco State University show that "the way in which parents or guardians respond to a youth's sexual orientation profoundly influences the child's mental health as an adult.

"...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.

"More significantly, [researcher Caitlin Ryan] said, ongoing work... 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."

This is part of why the hard work PFLAGers do is so critical: by dispelling myths and offering support and education to parents (who often times are confused and have many questions) we all help make the world better for all of the youth of tomorrow!

You can read all about the study's significant findings in an Associated Press article that appeared yesterday. Also be sure to check out San Francisco State's Family Acceptance Project, which headed this study into the importance of family acceptance.

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