Counseling Parents with Gay Children
Good points. The position of the APA and the other groups who have provided guidelines for their members regarding sexual orientation is to allow youngsters to discover and grow into the person that they are.
There is no particular pressure encouraging children to become gay despite the hysterical ranting by some. Instead there is societal pressure to conform to the heterosexual norm, which is understandable. No parent wants their child to be different in a world where there are people who would use these differences to divide us.
Children are to be loved and accepted for who they are when it comes to sexual orientation. They cannot be asked to change or pretend they are something they are not simply because of their parents discomfort. VP Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynn, accept the fact that their daughter is gay and hope she finds happiness with her partner. Alan Keyes does not. Instead he kicks his daughter out of the house and refuses to pay for her college. Being a good neighbor begins by being a good parent.
Counseling a gay child often involves forming a buffer between the child and the social pressures which might otherwise try to change the child or force the child to pretend to be something he or she is not. In working with children, a therapist stops by the child's school to confer with the child's teachers and school administrators. If the family attends church regularly, visiting the child's pastor and Sunday school teacher may be appropriate if what they are saying relates to the child's problems. Most church leaders I've talked to are willing to tone down the anti-gay rhetoric when they learn how hurtful it is to both the child and the parents. Talking about the sins that all children should avoid, rather than singling out gays, is the solution we often come up with.
Saying that being gay is a choice or that one can change, implying orientation rather than just some outward behavioral manifestations, is the most insidious and hateful of all the anti-gay propaganda. Twelve years ago, the rate of teen suicide was three times higher among gays that among others. Does anyone with an IQ above room temperature think that these youngsters would choose to be gay and commit suicide if they could simply choose to be straight and live happily ever after? The gullibility of some who swallow this "choose to be gay" nonsense is amazing. This suicide rate has decreased markedly since then, as schools have initiated their gay affirming anti-bullying programs.
People who are not in counseling may not realize it, but when we have something like this from the Love Won Out web site that Sara linked to: "Focus on the Family is promoting the truth that homosexuality is preventable and treatable - ..." is how devastating this can be to the parents of a gay child. Look, mom and dad, you really screwed up your kids life by not preventing your child from becoming gay. He'll probably enter the "gay lifestyle" (whatever that supposedly is) and die a premature dead from some horrible disease, and it's all your fault, mom and dad, because you didn't raise your child to be a God fearin' heterosexual.
Much of the counseling that deals with the problems that gay children have involves discussing the best scientific information we have about homosexuality with their parents. Homosexuality is not a "disease" so it's not something that can be "cured." It appears in all populations in a near random fashion. No factors relating to a child's upbringing have ever been linked to the sexual orientation that a child manifests later. What a relief it is for parents to find out that their child's sexual orientation is not of their doing, that those who say otherwise are not being truthful.
Once parents understand that having a child who is gay is not their fault, it's a natural part of the world we live in, and schools do their part in preventing gay harassment, and churches provide loving acceptance for all of God's children, then we will have gone a long way in dealing with the problems that our gay children are facing.
Also on Family Scholar's Blog Ex-Gay Marriage thread (if it comes out of moderation).