Monday, December 13, 2010

"Supportive Families, Healthy Children" - Free Booklet!

Last month, the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing featured an article "Family Acceptance in Adolescence and the Health of LGBT Young Adults." This study determined that positive and accepting family attitudes and behaviors towards LGBT children significantly increase their overall health in adulthood.

(Not exactly a newsflash, but it does provide solid, peer-reviewed data to support a bit of common-sense that many people still don't get. It's still not an uncommon event for kids to be completely rejected by homophobic parents. It's a cliche, but it's also an ongoing tragedy.)

The study shows that specific parental and caregiver behaviors, e.g., advocating for children when they are mistreated for being gay 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.

Findings include:
  • Family accepting behaviors towards LGBT youth during adolescence protect against suicide, depression, and substance abuse.
  • LGBT young adults who reported high levels of family acceptance during adolescence had significantly higher levels of self-esteem, social support, and general health, compared to peers with low levels of family acceptance.
  • LGBT young adults who reported low levels of family acceptance during adolescence were over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to report suicide attempts, compared to those with high levels of family acceptance.
  • High religious involvement in families was strongly associated with low acceptance of LGBT children.
Results of the research are being translated into practical tools for parents by the study's author, Dr. Caitlin Ryan, and her team at the Family Acceptance Project in collaboration with Child and Adolescent Services at the University of California, San Francisco, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

They use a behavioral approach to help ethnically and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBT children to reduce risk for suicide, depression, substance abuse, and HIV, to promote well-being, and to prevent homelessness and placement in custodial care. This work is being conducted in English, Spanish, and Chinese with families from all ethnic backgrounds, including immigrant and very low income families, and those whose children are out-of-home in foster care and juvenile justice facilities.

To download a copy of their booklet, just go here and enter your e-mail address and zip code (which they'll use to track where their materials are used and ask for any feedback on the booklet):
"Supportive Families, Healthy Children."

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