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J Homosex. 2012;59(2):186-200. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2012.648878.

Parents' supportive reactions to sexual orientation disclosure associated with better health: results from a population-based survey of LGB adults in Massachusetts.

Author information

1
Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02118, USA. erothman@bu.edu

Abstract

This study investigated associations between coming out to parents, experiences of parental support, and self-reported health behaviors and conditions among a population-based sample of LGB individuals using data collected via the 2002 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; N = 177). We explored the following two hypotheses: 1) Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals who had never disclosed their sexual orientation to a parent would report higher levels of risk behaviors and poorer health conditions than those who had come out; and 2) among LGB respondents who had come out to their parents, the individuals whose parents had reacted unsupportively would report higher levels of risk behaviors and poorer health conditions than those who had come out to parents who were supportive. Approximately two thirds of gay and bisexual (GB) males and lesbian and bisexual (LB) females reported receiving adequate social and emotional support from the parent to whom they first disclosed their sexual orientation. Among LB females, no disclosure of sexual orientation to a parent was associated with significantly elevated levels of past-month illicit drug use (AOR 12.16, 95% CI 2.87-51.54), fair or poor self-reported health status (AOR 5.71, 95% CI 1.45-22.51), and >15 days of depression in the past month (AOR 5.95, 95% CI 1.78-19.90), controlling for potential confounders. However, nondisclosure to a parent by GB males was not associated with greater odds of any of the health indicators assessed. Among GB males, those with unsupportive parents were significantly more likely to report current binge drinking (AOR 6.94, 95% CI 1.70-28.35) and >15 days depression in the past month (AOR 6.08, 95% CI 1.15-32.15), and among LB females, those with unsupportive parents were significantly more likely to report lifetime illicit drug use (AOR 11.43, 95% CI 2.50-52.30), and >15 days depression in the past month (AOR 5.51, 95% CI 1.36-22.36). We conclude that coming out may be associated with better health for LB women, and that parents who react nonsupportively when their children disclose LGB sexual orientation may contribute to children's increased odds of depression and hazardous substance use.

PMID:
22335417
PMCID:
PMC3313451
DOI:
10.1080/00918369.2012.648878
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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