Question: What causes
· parents and teens angst?
· religious organizations to consider it a “choice”?
· 9 million U.S. citizens under age 20 and 9% of high school students to identify with it?
· Its lack of acceptance accounts for 20-40% of runaway and homeless youth?
· Is the leading cause of suicide among teens?
· Accounts for an alarming truancy rate in schools?
Answer: Teen homosexuality
This hot topic, so prevalent in the media, has many parents wondering if their child is gay. How do you know if your child is gay? It’s hard to know if adolescence is about experimenting sexually, often with both sexes. Studies tell us that it is not uncommon for adolescent boys to explore their sexuality with the same sex. Alfred Kinsey’s Reports(1947 and 1953)taught us that bisexuality behavior was much more prevalent than previously thought: Sex is a continuum. Present day researcher, Professor of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Cornell University, Ritch C. Savin -Williams, Ph.D., remarks that many students in today’s society like to consider themselves “fluid” and don’t want to be pigeonholed into a “straight” or “gay” category.
There is no litmus test for one’s sexuality. Do you suspect your child is gay because he never dates, is a loner, and doesn’t play contact sports? Are your expectations or perceptions based on society’s macho image of what constitutes male behavior? If your son or daughter has come out to you, do you downplay their orientation by saying:“It’s just a phase you’ll outgrow.” “You’re too young to know?”
“Discounting or questioning your child’s assertion will likely result in resentment and antagonism, and will undermine your child’s attempt at fostering a more intimate relationship with you,” advises Jonathan Tobkes, M.D., a Manhattan psychiatrist. “The best way to manage your skepticism is by engaging your child in a conversation which will lead to a better understanding of how he/she arrived at this conclusion. Using neutral language, you might say, for example,” I had no idea. When did you first start thinking this may be the case? How have you been feeling about this?”
Truth is the only one who really knows the answer is your son or daughter. He may tell you that, for example, at age six, he felt “different” and knew he was attracted to the same sex or your daughter may tell you she realized she was lesbian when she turned 12, at puberty. Whatever you are told, you should believe your child.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.