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J Homosex. 1987;14(1-2):25-43.

Developmental issues and their resolution for gay and lesbian adolescents.

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New York University at Gouverneur Hospital, New York City.


The primary developmental task for homosexually oriented adolescents is adjustment to a socially stigmatized role. Although the individual homosexual adolescent reacts with diversity and great resilience to societal pressures, most pass through a turbulent period that carries the risk of maladaptive behaviors that may affect adult performance. Despite individual variation, certain issues have been found to concern most homosexual adolescents. Empirical data from the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth, Inc. in New York City suggests that isolation, family violence, educational issues, emotional stresses, shelter, and sexual abuse are the main concerns of youth entering the program. If not resolved, the social, cognitive, and social isolation may extend into adulthood, and anxiety, depressive symptoms, alienation, self-hatred, and demoralization may result. In a non-threatening supportive environment that provides accurate information and appropriate peer and adult role models, many of the concerns are alleviated and internalized negative attitudes are either modified or prevented from developing. The authors discuss the effects of prejudice and the impact of negative societal attitudes on the developing social and personal identities of homosexual youths.

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