Gay, lesbian youth with supportive parents more healthy

By Sheryl Kay • Published: July 18th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Even in today’s changing climate of tolerance for all, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth still face sharp scrutiny, and often bullying in their daily activities.

But for those who are raised with loving and supportive parents, the benefits go far beyond experiencing a nurturing environment.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Homosexuality, lesbian, gay and bisexual children who are being raised by compassionate parents are actually healthier in later years than those whose parents are not supportive.

Investigators surveyed almost fifty-seven hundred adults, looking at when the participants came out to their parents and what reactions they received. They then compared the data to the individuals’ health records.

The researchers found a consistent pattern of medical issues for those who were not raised in a supportive environment. For example, gay and bisexual men whose parents did not support them reported serious depression and binge drinking six to seven times more often than those raised with acceptance. In addition, lesbian and bisexual women raised with intolerance were five times more likely to suffer serious depression and 11 times more likely to use illicit drugs.

Other unrelated studies have shown there are higher rates of suicide and self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth than among their heterosexual peers. Coupled with the high costs of treating mental health and substance abuse issues, this increased risk poses an extra concern with researchers about the well-being of kids who aren’t accepted at home.

In addition to encouraging parents to be supportive regardless of a child’s sexual orientation, the researchers recommend that health professionals seize the opportunity to create guidelines for parents that will foster accepting, loving homes for all children.