The tragic cases of bullying and suicide involving gay teens and young adults, as well as teens labeled as “gay” by their peers, underscore the importance of having open communication lines and a supportive home environment for children even as they move closer toward adulthood.
In a new video podcast from Akron Children’s Hospital, James Fitzgibbon, MD, director of Adolescent Medicine, shares his thoughts on the process of acceptance and what parents can do to support a child who is gay or lesbian.
“When a child, in late adolescence, chooses to reveal to a parent that he or she is gay or lesbian, the immediate response from the family is not always predictable,” said Dr. Fitzgibbon, who encourages parents to be honest about their feelings while remaining supportive of their child.
“Home should be a safe place and, whether your teen is gay or not, should model tolerance,” said Dr. Fitzgibbon.
All children and teens who are viewed as “different” are targets for bullies, and perhaps it is more so for gay and lesbian teens.
“Kids often don’t like to admit they are being bullied so sometimes you need to have your antennae up and look for things like a change in mood, withdrawing from normal activities, sadness - things that seem to be out of the ordinary,” said Dr. Fitzgibbon.
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