What Parents Should Know
The teen years can be a challenging time for young people and their parents. This fact sheet provides information on how parents can promote positive health outcomes for their lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) teen. The information is based on a review of published studies, which found that parents play an important role in shaping the health of their LGB teen.
When LGB teens share their sexual orientation (or even if they choose not to share it), they may feel rejected by important people in their lives, including their parents. This rejection can negatively influence an LGB teen’s overall well-being.
On the other hand, a positive family environment, with high levels of parental support and low levels of conflict, is associated with LGB youth who experience healthy emotional adjustment. These teens are less likely to engage in sexual risk behaviors and be involved in violence.
How Parents Make a Difference
Compared to heterosexual youth, LGB teens are more likely to experience bullying, physical violence, or rejection. As a result, LGB teens are at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors and report higher rates of sexual risk behavior and substance abuse. Research suggests that LGB teens experience better health outcomes when their parents support their sexual orientation in positive and affirming ways. Compared to teens who do not feel valued by their parents, LGB youth who feel valued by their parents are less likely to:
- Experience depression
- Attempt suicide
- Use drugs and alcohol
- Become infected with sexually transmitted diseases