youngI’m not angry at questioning or struggling teens. I am deeply concerned about their safety and well-being.

I made the following overture to young people in an earlier post. Whenever I write or teach about SSA, I am always desirous to elaborate on my concerns. . . 

If you are a teen struggling with SSA, I understand many things may be confusing to you. Weird emotional and physical changes, vulnerabilities and an unclear sense of your personal identity and values characterize this stage of your life. After years of excruciating pain, you want to experience a measure of happiness, freedom, and relief.

You may be ready to be more honest with yourself and others around you. If so, I would suggest that you not “come out” the way our culture defines the process – a final and definitive declaration and revelation that you have embraced a gay identity; that you are gay (with all of its implications).

I would urge you to use (and think about) more descriptive language. Instead of saying “I’m gay”, think within yourself and talk to others about your feelings and experiences using specific – and descriptive – terms. For example, “I’m attracted to guys” or “for a long time, I have had strong feelings for other guys and not girls.”

At best, the adolescent years are trying. It is a time when normalcy is internal conflicts. Everything about a teen’s life is in a constant state of flux. I am angry because information (that is vital to their physical and emotional well-being) is being kept from them. Young people experiencing same-sex attractions are at psychological and medical risk. And very few people are warning (or helping) them.

What are some of the consequences if youth with SSA are encouraged to self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual and to “come out”? I list six here. References are presented at the end of this post.

  • A significant percentage of teens with SSA may have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. Not addressing the abuse is not in the best interest of these adolescents.
  • Teens who label themselves as LGBT at an early age are more likely to engage in sexual activity at an early age. These needy and wounded children don’t have the ability to cope with the emotional and psychological nuisances of sexual relationships. And boys are more likely to become HIV positive or contract a STD as a result of being sexual active earlier.
  • Adolescents who are self-identify as LGBT are more likely to use more drugs and alcohol than their peers.
  • Youth with SSA tend to suffer from untreated psychological problems such as depression and attachment disorders.
  • A significant percentage of people with SSA as adults had symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder (Gender Dysphoria) in childhood that was not properly addressed.
  • Homosexuality has been correlated with higher incidences of suicidal thinking and attempts, self-harm, eating disorders among gay men and anxiety-related problems.

These are just six examples. There are literally hundreds of studies that reveal a very troubling and shocking reality. There are dramatic quality of life differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality. For me, the intentional withholding of this information from those who would try to gain all the facts before deciding what they believe and how they will respond to their emotional and sexual issues is beyond unconscionable. This is why I am angry.

I am angry because encouraging a young person to embrace a particular identity at an early age is denying that child the right to self-knowledge and self-discovery. Homosexual sexual behaviors are clearly not without severe health risks.

I am angry because so many young people are struggling alone. If a high-school student doesn’t want to be defined by SSA, if he does not want to accept or affirm a homosexual identity, where and to whom does he turn? Is there any student more alienated or marginalized on a college campus than one who experiences same-sex attraction but who does not want to embrace a gay identity? I am angry because silence is imposed upon these individuals and their entire life experiences are discounted.

I am angry because people of faith who truly care about people with SSA (and their well-being) are too readily accused of being homophobic, prejudiced and heterosexist bigots – guilty of hate speech, harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence. It’s never a genuine and sincere difference of opinion, viewpoint or perspective. Their underlying motivations are always mean-spirited, sinister and meant to oppress others.

I am angry because a victim mentality is created and the gap between these precious young people and religious communities is widened even further. What a shame.

It is also shameful when Christians who claim to represent God dismiss or attack the legitimate hurts and needs of LGBT people. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful when Christians seek to understand and acknowledge the genuine concerns of LGBT youth and adults. When our knowledge is translated into compassionate action. When we learn to be discerning and proactive.

In his book, Loving Homosexuals As Jesus Would, author and speaker Chad Thompson makes this wise observation . . .

“If we wish to be successful in our attempts to bring God’s message of hope for the homosexual into our public schools, we must not go running to the door screaming about the spiritual and physical consequences of homosexual behavior. Rather, we must approach it with a plan to reduce the suffering of LGBT youth in tangible ways.”– page 90

A special plea to my readers. . .

Please, do not (in your attitude or actions) stereotype all LGBT people as militant, political activists or sexually promiscuous drug addicts. The politics, ideology, behavior or motivation of a few cannot (and should not) be generalized to an entire group or to individuals. Christians MUST acknowledge the legitimate needs and real hardships faced by LGBT students and young people. We MUST offer real-life solutions. And it IS okay for Christians to take a stand against the mistreatment of LGBT people.

Recommended Articles: (click to open in new windows/tabs)

Unique Challenges for Transgender Christians (Dr. Trista Carr)

Ask a Transgender Christian: Response (Rachel Held Evans)

Question: Is there a potential for physical and mental health risks to teens when educators and activists promote gay-affirmative education? Is there a potential legal liability (a tort of negligence) that schools administrators and teachers might face?

Your comments are welcomed below.

References:

Herrell, R., Goldberg, J., True, W.R., Ramakrishnan, V., Lyons, M., Eisen, S., Tsuang, M.T. (1999). “Sexual Orientation and Suicidality: A Co-Twin Control Study in Adult Men.” Archives of General Psychiatry, 56, 867-874.

Skegg, K. (2003) “Sexual Orientation and Self-Harm In Men and Women.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 160 (3), 541-546.

Cartat, D.J., & Camargo, C.A. (1991). “Review of Bulimia Nervosa In Males.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 831-843.

den Aardweg, V. (1985). “Male Homosexuality and the Neuroticism Factor: An Analysis of Research Outcome.” Dynamic Psychotherapy, 3, 79-87.

Lynda Doll et al. (1992). “Self-Reported Childhood and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Among Adult Homosexual and Bisexual Men”. Child Abuse & Neglect, 16, 855-864.

Johnson, R., Shrier, D. (1985) “Sexual Victimization of Boys: Experience At An Adolescent Medicine Clinic”. Journal of Adolescent Health Care, 6, 372-376.

Siegel, J., Sorenson, S., Golding, J., Burnam, Stein, J, (1987). “The Prevalence of Childhood Sexual Assault: The Los Angeles Epidemiological Catchment Area Project”. American Journal of Epidemiology, 126, 6, 1141.

Judith Branford et al. (1994). “National Lesbian Health Care Survey: Implications for Mental Health Care”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62 (2) 228-242.

Gregory Dickson, Dean Byrd (2006) “An Empirical Study of the Mother-Son Dyad In Relation To The Development of Male Homosexuality”. Journal of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, Vol. 30.

George Lemp et al, (1994) “Seroprevalence of HIV and Risk Behaviors Among Young Homosexual and Bisexual Men”. Journal of the American Medical Association, 272 (5) 449-454.

Susan Bradley (2003) Affect Regulation and the Development of Psychopathology (Guilford Press: NY) 201.

Sean Esteban McCabe, et al, (2005). “Assessment of Difference in Dimensions of Sexual Orientation: Implications For Substance Use Research In A College-Age Population”. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 66, 602-629.

Kenneth Zucker, Susan Bradley (1995) Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Childhood and Adolescence (Guilford: NY; George A Rekers).

Susan Bradley, Kenneth Zucker (1998). “Drs. Bradley and Zucker Reply”. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37 (3) 244-245.

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© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2012.

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