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Saturday, January 26, 2013

What every parent of a gay child needs to know: 3. Your child is just fine

You need assurance that your child is all right, not because there is any doubt in the minds of professionals, but because of society's fear of the different, the "other," that has made even left-handedness suspicious.  So false stereotypes exist that continue to make life uneasy for you and your child. You may also worry because bullying and overt discrimination work against those who are perceived as different.  I don't want to lead you to believe that life will be rosy.  On the contrary, there will be obstacles in the way of your child that are not present for straight children.  But there is a lot of good will and support available to you, as well.

I am concerned, first of all, that you understand that there is nothing psychologically, physiologically,or mentally about your child that is considered unusual or cause for concern.

Listen to these professionals:

The American Psychological Association released a Statement on Homosexuality in July of 1994. The opening paragraphs are:
The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals.  
Nor is homosexuality a matter of individual choice. Research suggests that the homosexual orientation is in place very early in the life cycle, possibly even before birth. It is found in about ten percent of the population, a figure which is surprisingly constant across cultures, irrespective of the different moral values and standards of a particular culture. Contrary to what some imply, the incidence of homosexuality in a population does not appear to change with new moral codes or social mores. Research findings suggest that efforts to repair homosexuals are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accouterments.
This affirmation of the normalcy of gays and lesbians is across the board of professional associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association.  Therefore, if you have any fear that your child may be somehow deficient as a human being, put those fears away for good.  There is no basis for it except in the minds of those who refuse to look at the facts.

The biggest obstacle to understanding the normalcy of nonheterosexuals is not knowing many or any.  As long as we insulate ourselves from the community, we will never get to see them as we see ourselves.  When I first moved to San Francisco, I took with me all the negative stereotypes that had formed me as a young man.  Yes, the flamboyancy was there, the sexual promiscuity was there.  But what I soon discovered was the promiscuity of my straight peers was its equal, and that the gay community as a whole was no different from any other.  They were also forming families, raising children, going to church, and leading very indistinguishable lives. In fact, being gay is so ordinary that most gays are not identifiable without self-labeling.    You are living among many of them and you don't even know it.  This may possibly even included your own child.

If you take the step to inform yourself by going to gay community centers or PFLAG meetings, for instance, you will see what I mean.  If there is an Open and Affirming church in your community, that's a great place to begin.  Once, African Americans were considered inferior, and were not allowed to marry whites in some states (up to 1964!).  Now one is the president of the United States.  We were able to see this remarkable transition unfold in a lifetime because whites got to know blacks and the stereotypes were debunked.  The more we get to know our gay and lesbian neighbors, the quicker we will move as a society away from their crude and highly misleading stereotypes.

So, your child is normal.  Well, kind of, and in an OK kind of way:

MONDAY: Will my son get HIV/AIDS?

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