During adolescence, many teens begin to explore their sexuality. For all teens, this is a challenging situation, but for teens who are questioning their sexual orientation, or who identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it can be a particularly difficult transition.
Did you know?
- – Prospective studies indicate that many gay and lesbian youth self-identify at about age 16, and that their first awareness of homosexual attraction occurred at about age 9 for males and 10 for females.
- – In one nationwide survey, over 84% of LGBTQ students reported verbal harassment at school.
- – Over 39% of all gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth reported being punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon at school because of their sexual orientation, while 55% of transgender youth reported physical attacks because of their gender identity or gender expression.
- – LGBTQ youth have an elevated risk for both depression and substance abuse and are up to three times more likely to have reported suicidal ideation than non-LGBTQ youth.
- – LGBTQ youth are up to seven times more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to have reported attempting suicide.
This is a crucial time for teens to get support and understanding from their peers, parents, and other adults when they have questions and concerns about sexual orientation.
Try these messages with youth:
“It takes time to figure out who you are. Experiencing or acting on romantic/sexual feelings for someone of the same or different gender does not automatically determine your sexual orientation. Only you determine what is right for you. Understanding and being true to your feelings is not always easy. It happens in a person’s own time.”
“It is important to be proud of the person you are becoming and to surround yourself with people that accept you for you. Sometimes this is hard and you worry that telling someone about your feelings will cause problems. There are people that support you and want to help you. Joining clubs or groups can provide you with support and resources as you figure out who you are and how to share that with others.”
Resources for Youth:
- – AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.
- – TeensHealth is safe, private place for teens who need honest, accurate information and advice about health, emotions, and life.
- – Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Youth Support Line: 1-888-843-4564
- – The Trevor Hotline: 866-488- 7386