Some of us are raising gay children - we just don't know it yet.
Most of us will certainly have friends who are raising gay children.
All of us know someone who is gay, even if it's not obvious.
So what happens when our child comes out to us? How do we react?
Based on new research, how we react will affect the young person for the rest of their lives.
Researchers at San Francisco University analyzed the findings of young gay people and their families - based on their reactions to having a gay child, as well as how that child was treated, to see what the effect was on the young person as he or she grew up. The results are obvious and startling.
A young gay person who is responded to negatively by his/her parents (for being gay) was eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to suffer depression and three times more likely to use drugs.
Research showed that even a small amount of understanding and compassion by parents allowed a gay child to have better coping skills as an adult.
One unfortunate aspect of the subject of homosexuality is that parents immediately think of sexual activity, rather than the emotional aspect of being gay. So if a young teen tells his/her parent they are gay, the parent thinks their child is running around town jumping into bed with dozens of people of the same sex. But they don't think this way if their child is obviously straight. While they may worry about pregnancy or disease, the entire concept of heterosexuality does not revolve about sex. Parents need to think similarly about homosexuality. Aside from the pregnancy part - hey - a silver lining!
This study is the first to show such a strong connection between gay people, their families, and their mental well-being.
The study is being used in therapy sessions with gay youth and their families who are responding more negatively to their sexual orientation. So far, the results have boosted family reactions to a more positive one.
This study is published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal.
Do you have a gay child or family member? What was or is the reaction to their sexual orientation? Do you have a story to tell?
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