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The Teen Years

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Adolescence is a time of stress and confusion for young people. Teenagers often have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings. The teenage years are difficult, even more difficult for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. They are immediately stigmatized because society says homosexuality is wrong. For many, as a teenager, their self-esteem level is already low.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who have internalized the negative image society has placed on homosexuality, their self-esteem issues only worsen. Youth with poor self-esteem often have poor coping skills and are particularly vulnerable to suicidal feelings when confronting a problem for the first time. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth have significantly higher rates of a suicidal ideations and attempts.

"Coming out" is extremely hard for some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. They are initially facing their own realizations and fears regarding homosexuality. They sometimes attempt suicide when they first realize they have homosexual feelings or after they try to "change" their thoughts and/or feelings and realize the thoughts and/or feeling will not go away; that the thoughts and/or feelings are part of who they are.

Other times lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth feel they have no one to turn to, nowhere to go, and fear being teased or harassed. They quickly learn to hide who they are, for fear of social and consequences. They suffer from chronic loneliness, depression, and then become alienated. This alienation sometimes forces them to see the reality of their situation. They attempt suicide because they have been "outed" or feel trapped inside, think they are bad, and do not deserve to live. Some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth see suicide as their way out. They would rather die than having to live with the stigma and continuous taunting.

Their peers make fun of them, calling them names and sometimes even beating them up. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are often rejected by the parents, siblings, and other family members. Many are singled out, ridiculed by their religious officials, and discarded by their communities. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to face intolerance, discrimination, hate, rejection, etc., on a daily basis.

Lack of family support, safe schools, and access to mental health providers are high risk factors for suicide. I have heard, one of the biggest fears among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth is what their parents will say and do if they find out about their sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth want to keep their families in tact.

They do not want to be a "disappointment" to their parents, but may feel like once their mom or dad "find out"



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