Kinsey Institute

Confused and Hurting, Teens Are “Coming Out” Earlier

Monday, March 5th, 2007

TAKE ACTION — Do you know whether your child’s teachers, school counselors, and principal are normalizing homosexual behavior in your local school? Find out! (You can use the Risk Audit PDF from Mission America.) Then react to what you learn — for example, if your school has a “GSA” make it known in writing that your children are not permitted to participate in their presentations, meetings, or activities.

Excerpted from Gay Teens Coming Out Earlier to Peers and Family, by Marilyn Elias, published Feb 8, 2007, by USA Today:

…Gay teenagers are “coming out” earlier than ever, and many feel better about themselves than earlier generations of gays, youth leaders and researchers say. The change is happening in the wake of opinion polls that show growing acceptance of gays, more supportive adults and positive gay role models in popular media.

…Still, many continue to have a tough time. The worst off, experts say, are young people in conservative rural regions and children whose parents cannot abide having gay offspring. Taunting at school is still common…

…Schools are more likely than in the past to have openly gay staff members who can help young people, says Anthony D’Augelli, an associate dean at Pennsylvania State University. In a recent national survey, one-third of school psychologists said they had counseled students or parents about sexual orientation.

In the mid-1990s, a few dozen Gay-Straight Alliance clubs were in U.S. high schools; now 3,200 are registered with the education network, Jennings says.

The Internet also has eased isolation for gay teens, offering a place for socializing and support, says Stephanie Sanders of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind.

Cultural diversity is prevalent

Teens are coming out in an era when more Americans than ever consider homosexuality acceptable. In 2006, 54% found homosexuality acceptable, compared with 38% in 1992, Gallup polls show.

Youths also swim in a cultural sea that’s far more pro-gay than ever, says Ritch Savin-Williams, a psychologist at Cornell University and author of The New Gay Teenager. From MTV’s The Real World to Will & Grace and Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Oscars, “kids can see gays in a positive light,” he says…

…Not everyone applauds the soaring number of school-based gay/straight alliances and adult-led programs for gay teens. “Homosexuality is harmful to society, and young people have no business committing to a sexual identity until they’re adults,” says Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy group. The council backs a new Georgia law, first in the nation, that requires schools to tell parents about clubs and allows them to forbid their children to participate in gay/straight alliances.

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