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Supporting LGB children may influence their long-term health, BU study finds
Date:4/10/2012

'Coming out' as gay, lesbian or bisexual may be good for your health, particularly when parental support is involved.

A comprehensive new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher Emily Rothman shows that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in a representative Massachusetts sample reported receiving positive support from their parents after coming out to them. Their incidence of mental health and substance abuse problems was significantly lower than those who did not receive support, the authors reported.

Overall, three-quarters of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in Massachusetts reported having come out to their parents, typically when they were about 25 years old, the study found.

The response to their coming out led to different health outcomes, according to the researchers. Gay and bisexual males whose parents did not support them, for example, had six to seven times the odds of serious depression and binge drinking, while lesbian and bisexual females had five times the odds of developing serious depression, and 11 times the odds of illicit drug use.

In the study, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, Rothman and colleagues surveyed 5,658 adults ages 18-64 years old in Massachusetts using a statewide surveillance system. They explored whether coming outand the reaction that it received was associated with better or worse adult health. The authors controlled for factors including age, race, education level and health insurance status, in order to focus as narrowly as possible on the association between coming out and adult health status.

"These results do not surprise me at all," said Nicole Sullivan, a 22-year-old student at Bunker Hill Community College who came out as bisexual when she was 19 years old. "I struggled with mental health and drug problems during my adolescence, and I know that some of it is because I didn't feel accepted at home. I
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Contact: Emily Rothman
erothman@bu.edu
617-763-5557
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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