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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

GW: Study Finds Parents May Struggle for Years After Learning About Child’s Sexual Orientation

Two years after their child comes out as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), many parents still say that it is moderately or very hard for them to adjust to the news, according to a recent study by researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH). Those responses are the same, on average, as parents who have recently learned about their child’s sexual orientation, a finding that suggests most parents struggle with such news for several years.

This study is one of the first and largest to survey parents themselves. The results are important because previous studies suggest parents who have trouble adjusting are more likely to disapprove or adopt negative behaviors that can, in turn, put LGB youth at risk of serious health problems.

“Surprisingly, we found that parents who knew about a child’s sexual orientation for two years struggled as much as parents who had recently learned the news,” said Dr. David Huebner, associate professor of prevention and community health at the Milken Institute SPH. “Two years is a very long time in the life of a child who is faced with the stress of a disapproving or rejecting parent.”

The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study.

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