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Study finds family acceptance of LGBT youth protects against depression, substance abuse, suicide
Date:12/6/2010

For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between accepting family attitudes and behaviors towards their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and significantly decreased risk and better overall health in adulthood. The study shows that specific parental and caregiver behaviors -- such as advocating for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity or supporting their gender expression -- protect against depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in early adulthood. In addition, LGBT youth with highly accepting families have significantly higher levels of self-esteem and social support in young adulthood. The study is published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, a journal of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses, in a peer-reviewed article titled "Family Acceptance in Adolescence and the Health of LGBT Young Adults."

Despite all the recent attention to health risks and disparities for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, prior to this study, little was known about how families express acceptance and support for their LGBT children. Moreover, no prior research had examined the relationship between family acceptance of LGBT adolescents and health and mental health concerns in emerging adulthood.

"At a time when the media and families are becoming acutely aware of the risk that many LGBT youth experience, our findings that family acceptance protects against suicidal thoughts and behaviors, depression and substance abuse offer a gateway to hope for LGBT youth and families that struggle with how to balance deeply held religious and personal values with love for their LGBT children," said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, PhD, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. "I have worked on LGBT health and mental health for 35 years and putting our research into practice by developing a new model
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Contact: Elaine Bible
ebible@sfsu.edu
415-405-3606
San Francisco State University
Source:Eurekalert

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