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    Homosexuality and Your Teen: Could it Just Be a Stage?

    Attraction to somebody of the same gender can be a normal part of growing up. It doesn’t always mean a teen is gay or lesbian.

    The teen years are a time of change and sexual discovery. Crushes and sexual experimentation are all part of the learning process.

    Some boys and girls are attracted to people of the same sex during puberty. This can be a normal part of growing up. The feelings may be strong, but it does not always mean that the child is gay.

    For some teens, though, the attraction to a same-sex friend is not just a stage. They may know from a young age that they are attracted to people of the same gender. For others, realizing they are gay is an evolving process.

    Attraction to the same sex
    True homosexuals have feelings of sexual attraction only for people of the same sex. About 10 percent of the population is homosexual. Others may be bisexual, meaning that they may be attracted to both genders.

    No one knows why some people are homosexual and others are not. There are several theories:

    Biological factors. Some scientists believe that sexual preference is determined before birth.
    Environmental factors. Others think sexual preferences develop in early childhood.

    We do know that sexual orientation is not something that is chosen. Nor is it something that can be changed by willpower, medicine or therapy.

    If your child comes to you with questions about being gay, you need to listen. Take your child’s concerns seriously and don’t dismiss his or her feelings.

    A difficult subject
    Some people do not accept homosexuality. That makes it harder for a child to bring it up and talk about it frankly. Teens often worry about how friends and family will react.

    Sometimes, teens dealing with sexual confusion turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain and stress. They may be bullied about their sexuality at school. Some even have thoughts of suicide. These are serious problems that need professional attention.

    Teens with sexual doubts may feel they have no one to talk to. How a parent responds can make a big difference to a teen’s self-esteem about being gay.

    Talking to your teen
    Most parents are not prepared at all to discuss homosexuality with a teen. You did something right, though, if your child trusts you with such a personal issue.

    Thank your child for confiding in you. Let your child know he or she was right to come to you about this and that you will do your best to help.
    Assure your child that you care and that your love and acceptance is not based on his or her sexual preference.
    Explain that hormonal changes during puberty have effects on the mind that can be temporary. Being attracted to a person of the same sex does not necessarily mean he or she is gay.
    Help your child find answers. Arrange a session with a counselor. Counselors can help with sorting out the teen’s feelings.

    Finding out a child is gay may be hard for some parents to hear and accept at first. Your child needs buy vidalistaand deserves your loving support, though. Don’t leave your teen to deal with these issues alone.