One expert shows us how homophobia is bullying.
Kirk Cameron on CNN's Piers Morgan's show discussing his beliefs that homosexuality is "unnatural" "detrimental" and "ultimately destructive" is just that, ultimately destructive to our GLBT youth. This rejection by the parents and other adult caregivers of our children has a similar effect on a child as the bullying in school that these same kids suffer at the hands of other youth.
Children and adolescents who are bullied suffer greater incident of depression, substance abuse, suicide attempts, homelessness, stress related illness and increased likelihood of entering into abusive relationships. These youth, bullied at school, do not need to go home to a rejecting and bullying household. What Is Behind Kirk Cameron's Antigay Remarks?
Most homeless teenagers are homeless because they spoke up about their sexual orientation. I went to graduate school in San Francisco. As a school project I chose to meet with a few of the homeless teenagers who live in encampments in Golden Gate Park. It was an interesting yet sad experience. Almost all of those kids identify as LGBT and they reported leaving homes where they were not allowed to be themselves.
In some cases they were thrown out, but more often they left due to the emotional pain of being rejected by their parents. Some of them were physically abused. These street teens are at high risk of becoming prostitutes, drug addiction, violence and other crimes. While I was having breakfast with these kids one of them shot up with heroin in the restaurant and nodded off at the table. Gay Relationship Compatibility—Am I Attracted To You?
How parents do relationship is how children learn to do relationship. Very early in their lives children start learning relationship from their parents. When I'm coaching couples on improving their relationship I often tell them that the way they do relationship is the first lesson their children get in how to do relationship. If you demean your partner, dismiss their most authentic self-expression, and fight with each other, then children learn that is what relationship is. This lesson gets doubly reinforced by the way the parents relate to the child.
How parents relate to a child furthers the child's relationship education. For a boy born with a gay orientation, his first and most important male relationship is with his father. It is the model for all of his future male relationships. If he is shamed by his father for talking about his self-exploration of his sexuality, this is the child's next lesson in the nature of intimate relationship. "We Have No Chemistry": What Does He Mean?
If he doesn't get authentic validation from his father growing up, as an adolescent and young adult he'll try to deaden the pain of his shame through his relationships with other men, drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive behavior.
"How parents respond to their LGBTQ child can have a tremendous impact on their child's current and future mental and physical health [1,6,9,10]. Supportive reactions can help youth cope with the challenges of being an LGBTQ teen. However, some parents react negatively to learning that they may have an LGBTQ daughter or son. In some cases, children are thrown out of the house or stress and conflict at home can cause some youth to run away. As a result, LGBT youth are at greater risk for homelessness than their heterosexual peers . Parenting Lessons From Kirk Cameron's Anti-Gay Comment
Even less severe reactions can have long-lasting negative effects. Research published in the journal Pediatrics found significantly higher rates of mental and physical health problems among LGBT young adults who experienced high levels of rejection from their parents while they were adolescents . Compared with LGBT young adults who experienced very little or no parental rejection, LGBT young adults who experienced high levels of rejection were:
- Nearly 6 times as likely to have high levels of depression
- More than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide
- More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs
- More than 3 times as likely to engage in unprotected sexual behaviors that put them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections." Grow Up, Kirk Cameron! The Actor's Painfully Homophobic Rant
Socially conservative Christians and others who practice homophobia will say in the same breath that they support family values. Where are the family values in tearing down your children and allowing them to grow up in an unsafe world?
Social conservatives talk about family values. Ellen DeGeneres was recently attack in the media by the the OneMillionMoms.com organization for JC Penney's choice to have DeGeneres be a spokesperson for them. In response she said on her show: "Here are the values I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you'd want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That's what I stand for." Influential Celebrities Speak Out Against Bullying
Those are family values any loving person can get behind. Kirk Cameron, where are your family values?
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Larry Cappel is a licensed psychotherapist who has been helping gay men since 1999. His passion is to help gay men overcome growing up gay in a straight world, to embrace their true nature, and to create a loving, successful and wonderful life for themselves and their loved ones; regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Change is possible. Transform your life into the life you’ve always dreamed of! Don’t wait another day!
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