Positive family attitudes and behaviours towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender(LGBT) teens reduce their risk of depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts when they become young adults, a new study finds.
The study authors also found that those adolescents with highly accepting families have much higher levels of self-esteem and social support when they're young adults.
The study included 245 white and Hispanic LGBT young adults, aged 21 to 25, who were open about their sexual orientation to at least one parent or caregiver during adolescence.
Examples of positive parental and caregiver support include supporting their gender expression or advocating for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity.
"At a time when the mAcceptance is very importantedia and families are becoming acutely aware of the risk that many LGBT youth experience, our findings that family acceptance protects against suicidal thoughts and behaviours, depression and substance abuse offer a gateway to hope for LGBT youth and families that struggle with how to balance deeply held religious and personal values with love for their LGBT children," said study author Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.
The study appears in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.
The findings provide "the strongest evidence to date that acceptance and support from parents and caregivers promote well-being among LGBT youth and help protect them from depression and suicidal behaviour," said Ann P. Haas, director of prevention projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"These findings open the door to a whole new focus on how families can be helped to more fully engage in the kind of behaviours that reduce suicide risk in LGBT adolescents and young adults," Haas added.
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