More than two-thirds of those who had been rejected by their families said they had tried to kill themselves, compared with about 20 percent of those who reported the lowest rates of rejection.
About 46 percent of those in the most-rejected group said they'd had unprotected sex with a casual partner in the past six months -- nearly twice the rate of those in the least-rejected group.
Those who reported the most rejection had higher rates of illegal drug use, substance abuse problems and depression. However, people in that group had somewhat lower rates of heavy drinking.
Ryan said the findings suggest that health providers should look for signs of trouble by talking to teens about their sexual orientation. As for families, they should emphasize to their children that they love them even if they disagree with their choices, Ryan said.
In cases of rejection, "most of these families feel that being gay is wrong or sinful or the worst thing that could happen," she said. "What often doesn't get communicated is that they still love their child."
Stephen T. Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, & Families at the University of Arizona, said the study confirms his suspicions about the harm caused when families reject gay children.
"It's really important to have research that documents the risk," he said, adding that the study provides guidance by pinpointing the specific harmful things that families do.
Russell echoed study author Ryan by saying that families often have the best interests of their children in mind even as they lay the
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