I wrote the following blog post 3 years ago. It still has relevance. How I wish parents rejecting their kids was a thing of the past but it is not. Back then, I was working with LGBTQ adults who had been rejected but their families. What I found was those who needed help did not have the resources to pay for it. They were unemployed, under-employed or dealing with substance abuse. Those who could afford it no longer needed it. They had dealt with, accepted things as they were and moved on. Some had made peace with their families and thankfully, some families had come around and accepted their LGBTQ loved one. During that time in my life, I realized that I could have a great impact working with the parents to help them deal with the common emotions and reactions that come up when a child comes out. Working with the parents would have a greater, more positive impact on the LGBTQ youth than working with the youth or the adults who had already been rejected. Here is what I wrote on March 12, 2013:
Since I’ve been working with LGBTQ people who have been disowned or rejected by their families, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the long term effects might be. I have my own opinions, based on my observations. Of course, there is no scientific basis for my opinion! I thought I’d see if there was any research on the subject.
I found there was a study titled “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Children,” authored by Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, right in my own backyard! It’s too long to tell everything it found but I found some findings very interesting.
“Rejection greatly heightens the risks of depression, suicide attempts, substance abuse, as well as exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
“For example, Ryan said that LGBT youth are three and a half times more likely to be at risk for HIV infection as young adults when they experience “high levels of family rejection.” Lifetime suicide attempts are also much increased, making them eight and half times more likely to attempt suicide, she said, when rejection is high.” Quoted from an article in the Washington Blade
These statistics sadden me more than I can adequately express. This is what drives me to do what I do.