On Being Gay and a Teen

Being a gay teenager can be really, really hard. Teenagers who commit suicide are more likely to be gay. Teenagers who are homeless are more likely to be gay. (There was an article about homeless gay teenagers in yesterday’s New York Times that prompted me to write about the subject today.)

What all of those articles and others talk about is that many GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) youth are rejected by their families. The Times article quotes a study that found gay teenagers are more likely to experience physical violence from their families than heterosexual teenagers do, which is why more of them are homeless.

Now, I suspect that it is unlikely that anyone reading this article would physically hurt or attack their child if the child was gay. Nevertheless, part the reason that this kind of family-oriented violence against GLBT youth is allowed to continue is that we as a society do not talk about or accept teenagers being gay or transgender. I consider it part of my job as a sex educator of teenagers and their parents to talk about this subject with as many people as I can reach. I encourage each of you to talk with at least one about the experience of GLBT youth today. Think about the teenagers you know, and reach out to one of them who you think might be struggling with the issues of a GLBT youth. Let them know they have your support. You might be the only one to offer them such support.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.