New statistics from a survey of 10,000 LGBT teens between the ages 13-17 revealed 92 percent encounter hostility and bullying, while 50 percent say there isn’t a single adult that they can turn to if they feel worried or sad, 44 percent are not out to families, and 26 percent fear rejection by them.
Imagine being bullied and made fun of at school all day, then going home where you still don’t feel comfortable being yourself. Not too long ago I was a teenager too, I know parents aren’t always the easiest, but if you can’t express your interests, hobbies, or crushes in the privacy of your own home then what is there?! What if your hobbies don’t match up with what girls are supposed to conventionally do? Even if you’re not LGBT, unfortunately it still often makes people suspicious of your sexual orientation because you don’t fit into a traditional gender role. What if you’re a chick who loves carpentry or basketball? If your parents aren’t supportive of who you are you may never get to pursue those things. (And you’re probably really good at those things too.)
We’re not saying that parents of LGBT youth are bad, but they clearly need to step their game up! Laughing at jokes that are at the expense of gay people, supporting politicians who have anti-gay policies, speculating about a stranger’s sexual orientation–all these things can alienate kids from their parents without parents even knowing.
Don’t call that kid a “sissy” or take your kids to a church that discriminates! Even if your son or daughter just isn’t ready to express who they are, even if as a parent you’re totally oblivious–you may never know if someone is LGBT until they tell you. Moreover, you don’t want to turn your kid into a homophobe by making one too many “gay jokes” that you might think are harmless.
Why is it so difficult for adults to just say it doesn’t matter, to be present, to care? It’s bad enough that LGBT are more likely to be miserable than non-LGBT kids–with no support system it explains why LGBT teens have a much higher suicide rate.
If you’re a LGBT teen feeling lost or alone, there’s help! The Trevor Project is amazing and has counselors on hand to talk to you at 866-488-7386 and even an online chat system.