Many gay teens worry about whether they will be accepted or rejected by their loved ones, or whether people will feel upset, angry, or disappointed in them. Some gay teens say they had same-sex crushes in childhood, just as their heterosexual peers had opposite-sex crushes. In some situations, teens who are openly gay may risk facing more harassment than those who haven't revealed their sexual orientation. These fears of prejudice, discrimination, rejection, or violence, can lead some teens who aren't straight to keep their sexual orientation secret, even from friends and family who might be supportive. Teens are beginning to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others.
Fortunately, many parents of gay teens understand and are accepting right from the start. Becoming aware of — and coming to terms with — one's sexual orientation can take some time. The term sexual orientation refers to the gender that is, male or female to which a person is attracted. Some teens may experiment with sexual experiences, including those with members of the same sex, as they explore their own sexuality. People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: These changes involve both the body and the mind — so just thinking about someone attractive can cause physical arousal. They often feel glad that their child chose to confide in them, and are proud of their child for having the courage to tell them. Many parents face their teen's emerging sexuality with a mix of confusion and worry. Many gay teens worry about whether they will be accepted or rejected by their loved ones, or whether people will feel upset, angry, or disappointed in them. Being straight, gay, or bisexual is not something that a person can choose or choose to change. These fears of prejudice, discrimination, rejection, or violence, can lead some teens who aren't straight to keep their sexual orientation secret, even from friends and family who might be supportive. In a recent survey, teens who had come out reported feeling happier and less stressed than those who hadn't. Other parents feel upset, disappointed, or unable to accept their teen's sexual orientation at first. How Parents Might Feel Adolescence is a time of transition not just for teens, but for their parents too. Knowing one's sexual orientation — whether straight or gay — is often something that kids or teens recognize with little doubt from a very young age. Others wonder whether the news is really true and whether their teen is sure. There is no evidence that being gay is the result of the way that someone was raised. In some situations, teens who are openly gay may risk facing more harassment than those who haven't revealed their sexual orientation. In fact, people don't choose their sexual orientation any more than they choose their height or eye color. Teens are beginning to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others. And despite gender stereotypes, masculine and feminine traits do not necessarily predict whether someone is straight or gay. But these experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a teen is gay or straight. And they might feel protective, worrying that others might judge or reject their child. They feel they have known all along, even before their teen came out to them. Health and mental health professionals caution against any efforts to change a person's sexual orientation.
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