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Study: Parental support of ‘coming out’ helps improve long-term health

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
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“Coming out” may be good for your health, particularity when your parents support the decision, according to a new study published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health surveyed 5,658 adults ages 18-64 in Massachusetts, and found that 75 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults had “come out” to their parents.

And in incidences where parents were openly supportive of their children, reports of mental health and substance abuse were considerably lower than in cases where parents were unsupportive.

“These results do not surprise me at all,” said Nicole Sullivan, a 22-year-old student at Bunker Hill Community College who came out as bisexual when she was 19 years old.

“I struggled with mental health and drug problems during my adolescence, and I know that some of it is because I didn’t feel accepted at home. I am really grateful that I had cousins who supported me, and it’s because of them that I was able to get healthy.”

“The way that parents treat their LGB children when they come out is an important public health topic that has received too little attention to date,” said Emily Rothman, Ph.D., an associate professor of community health sciences.

“Our message is that parents should take note: The way we treat our LGB children, even from before the time they disclose their sexual orientation status, may have a long-term, significant impact on their health and ability to handle life’s challenges.”

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