Coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can be tough at any age, but teens have a lot more to think about. Is it safe to come out at school? Will your mom or dad reject you? Will you be kicked out of the house?
If you’ve spent the past few months or years figuring out that you’re gay, bisexual or transgender, you may want to tell someone else. You want to be true to who you are. How can you do that safely and with support?
“You need to be firm in your own identity and work through some of the issues you might have with your sexuality first,” says Regina Hund, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Pace University Counseling Center in New York, in a WebMD feature story. “It’ll be easier to allow other people to go through their process of understanding if you are comfortable with yourself first. You’ll be less vulnerable to rejection.”
Too often, hostile environments at school and at home make gay and lesbian adolescents depressed. Dr. Richard Shadick, director of Pace’s NYC Campus Counseling Center, suggests how teens in the LGBT adolescent scene can find the emotional support they need.
A recent National School Climate Survey of 7,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) students, ranging in age from 13 to 21, found that 80 percent had been verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, 60 percent felt unsafe at school, and one in three had missed a day of school in the last month due to fear of violence.
Given these struggles, it’s no surprise that a LGBT teen may experience depression.
“Family members and friends can provide needed support for a loved one who might be depressed,” advised Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York City, in an interview with EverydayHealth.com. “Warning signs include a change in how a gay teen relates (they become withdrawn and isolated), how they look (they may become unkempt, sad, or dispirited), or how they act (they may give away prize possessions, talk of wanting to die, and/or engage in impulsive and dangerous behavior). They may also drink or use drugs heavily. And if a teen has a family member that has died because of suicide or they have tried to kill themselves before, then there should be extra concern,” said Shadick.
Click here to read more of the article – “Why Are So Many Gay Teen Depressed?” – which appears on EverydayHealth.com, a leading provider of online health solutions with more than 28 million monthly unique visitors.