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Sexual health Growing up gay

Gay children often keep their sexuality a secret, even from their parents. They fear that the people they love won’t love them if they’re gay.

“Many parents who suspect their child may be gay don’t know how to bring up the issue,” says Dr. Paula Rauch, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Some worry that raising questions will influence their child’s sexuality. That’s not true. Asking questions and talking about homosexuality won’t make children gay.”

On the other hand, the cost of gay children not talking and not gaining acceptance is great:

Ninety-seven percent of high school students report regularly hearing homophobic remarks from their peers. 1

Feelings of confusion, fear, and rejection can lead to significantly higher use of drugs among gay youth and heterosexual youth. Studies have reported that gay youth are up to three times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. 2

Students who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were three times more likely than their peers to miss school because of feeling unsafe. 3

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1. Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth: Report of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993.
2. Garofalo, R., Wolf, R.C., Kessel, S., Palfrey, J., and DuRant, R.H., “The Association Between Health Risk Behaviors and Sexual Orientation Among a School-based Sample of Adolescents,” Pediatrics, Vol. 101, No. 5, May 1998.
3. Massachusetts Risk Behavior School Students and Sexual Orientation Results, Massachusetts Risk Behaviors Survey (MYRBS), 1999.

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