Despite progress, it's still a challenge to be young and gay.
In the recent election, voters rejected the Minnesota marriage amendment, and proposals to legally recognize same-sex marriage passed in three states. Attitudes are changing. So I was surprised to learn some hard statistics regarding teenage gays.
On a typical night in Minnesota, 2,500 unaccompanied youths are homeless. Studies report that 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless youths in the United States are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning. Usually they've been kicked out of the house or made to feel so uncomfortable that they've left.
With today's greater awareness of LGBT issues, young people are coming out at earlier ages, when they're not yet on their own and making a living. Gay teens are at much higher risk for suicide. For those rejected by their families, the rate is eight times higher. On the street, they become prey to muggers and sexual predators.
Parents: If you have a gay teen, please accept and love that child, even if you don't approve, even if your religion calls homosexual behavior a sin, even if it just seems weird and unexpected. Advice columnist Dan Savage asks parents to be involved. "Meddle. Just like we do in our straight teens' lives."
Meet your son's boyfriend, just as you would want to meet your daughter's boyfriend. If you're a parent struggling with this issue, you'll get lots of help from PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Here's the website for the Twin Cities chapter.
BARBARA TUTTLE, ST. LOUIS PARK
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