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LGBT Teens Coming Out at Younger Ages

LGBT Teens Coming Out at Younger Ages

Student members of the LGBT community are feeling more confident about their sexuality, helping some to come out between middle school and high school ages. More and more, America's schools are seeing acceptance of LGBT class members. Some schools have begun launching gay-straight alliances, there are increasing numbers of same-sex dates at prom and some transgender students are beginning to transition as teenagers.

Student members of the LGBT community are feeling more confident about their sexuality, helping some to come out between middle school and high school ages, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting.

More and more, America's schools are seeing acceptance of LGBT class members. Some schools have begun launching gay-straight alliances, there are increasing numbers of same-sex dates at prom and some transgender students are beginning to transition as teenagers.

Jude McNeil, Youth Programs Director at the Utah Pride Center told the Tribune, "The fact that kids are coming out in high school says a lot" about how society has changed.  The center continues to do good work within the community -- they have helped over 3,000 people, aged 14-20 last year. 700 teens attended the center's Queer Prom in April, up from 250 in 2004.

McNeil credits visibility within the community and in the media as a force for change.  Positive images in television and film have increased the presence of the gay existence.  "As a community and as a society we're hearing more and more about LGBT people." she said.

However, there is a negative aspect to coming out as a young adult.  Sadly, there is a correlation between living as an out person to rejection from family, bullying and higher suicide and depression rates.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found in a 2007 study that 86 percent of gay students had been verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. Another startling statistic is that one in five students said they had been physically assaulted.

The bright spot is that studies are showing that the majority of LGBT kids are coping by finding support from each other.  
David Huebner, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Utah said, "They're finding ways to cope and to adapt to situations that are very hard," he said. "That points to the resilience of these kids, the strength of these kids."

 

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Leslie Dobbins