Study probes impact of acceptance, rejection on LGBT youth

Published: February 8, 2011

The first major study of how families respond and adapt when LGBT youth come out during adolescence was hailed this week by an Obama administration official for its recommendations on how to stem what he called “the tragic rash of suicide and bullying” in which targeted LGBT young people are victimized.

The official, David Hansell, who is gay, is acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). He spoke before a gathering to discuss “The Critical Role of Family Support of LGBT Youth,” where the report was the centerpiece  — at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress.

Hansell pledged a major push for a “cross-departmental and united effort” by all federal agencies, including the Defense Department, as well as the private sector, “to combat bullying and give support to at-risk LGBT youth.” A work-group is being created, Hansell said, to design this effort, which he called “a great example of bringing together the main organizations that can affect their lives.”

He also pointed to a recent action by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to form a high-level, departmental coordinating committee on LGBT services “across the entire spectrum of services” that he said would be supported by “an unprecedented devotion of resources.”

Speaking of findings from the report — titled “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Children,” authored by Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University — Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) declared, “I come here with a message of hope.”

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