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14 April 2011

Helping teens who come out

How should you respond if a teen admits to being gay, lesbian or bisexual? And how can you best provide guidance?

Adolescents experiment sexually, but their sexual behaviour does not determine their sexual orientation. For example, some adolescents may have sex with people of the same sex, but do not identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

On coming out
Let’s be aware of the psychological and emotional aspects related to young people who are struggling with their sexual identity. As part of this, try to:

  • Show our young people through our own attitudes that we value same-sex relationships as much as heterosexual relationships.
  • Focus on the psychological and emotional aspects of straight and gay relationships, and on gender roles, not just on biology, reproductive systems and sex.
  • Make encouraging statements inside and outside the classroom.
  • Encourage young people to be friendly and compassionate to each other.
  • Support the parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay or bisexual adolescents who are struggling with their sexual identity.
  • Help parents understand that if they are not supportive of their adolescents, they will be adding to already high levels of anxiety.

  • Assist lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents by giving accurate information, and referrals to organisations, books and counsellors.
  • Be supportive by simply listening to adolescents without judging them.
  • Be inclusive of all orientations by including lesbian, gay and bisexual experiences, through methods such as openly gay speakers, movies and videos.
  • Clear up misperceptions surrounding sexual diversity, eg in the way we ask or answer questions.

 
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