Being a teen is hard enough even when you're accepted by your peers and society. Gay teens, however, have to deal with additional issues such as feeling different or guilty, and being teased and rejected. If your teen has told you he's gay, he might be looking for support and understanding. Offering support and understanding likely is the best way you can help him accept himself and grow up happy and well-adjusted.
Examine your own feelings about homosexuality. If you have questions about it or are unsure how to deal with it, talk to a therapist or counselor. Read about discrimination and other issues that gay teens might face so you have a better understanding of how to deal with them and what words of wisdom you can offer your teen. PFLAG -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays --- is a good place to get started. Many areas in the U.S. have local PFLAG chapters.
Talk with your teen. Ask him what his major concerns are. If he's worried about disappointing you or being rejected, tell him you're ready to support him. Talk about being teased, social acceptance and discrimination, and offer support and encouragement if that's worrying your teen. Your main goal should be helping your teen understand that being honest with himself is more important than anything else -- social and peer acceptance might have to wait until later.
Be on the lookout for signs of depression. According to researchers at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the suicide rate among gay teens is higher than among heterosexual teens. This stems, in part, from feelings of inadequacy or from being rejected by family and friends. If you see your teen becoming withdrawn and sad, a visit to a therapist might be in order.
Talk about sexual behavior and HIV risks. According to the Boston Children's Hospital, gay teens are at a higher risk of contracting HIV than heterosexual teens. If you haven't addressed safe sex with your teen, now is the right time.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images