QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

When I came out to my parents, they had all sorts of horrible things to say. For instance, they claimed my children were not safe with me because I'd make them all mentally sick and queer. I pointed out that they're heterosexual and I'm gay, so how could they assume my children would be gay or lesbian? They didn't have an answer, but found other awful things to say.

They did start me thinking. Are my kids likely to be lesbian or gay? Do I have to worry about being a bad influence?

Answer

Let's start out with your second question. The existing research is clear: there are no significant differences between the children of heterosexual parents and the children of lesbian and gay parents with respect to mental health. Some parents are a good influence and a few are not, but that has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Next let's consider your other question. As you pointed out, the sexual orientation of the parents does not determine the sexual orientation of their children, at least in the case of lesbian and gay children of heterosexual parents. There haven't been very many studies that ask whether the children of gay and lesbian parents are more likely to be lesbian and gay than children of heterosexual parents. The research that is available has not found any differences between the two groups.

Here's another way of looking at the question of whether your kids are likely to be gay or lesbian because you are. So what if they are? If there isn't anything wrong with being lesbian or gay, and there is not, sexual orientation doesn't matter. What matters is what kind of a parent you are, and what kind of people your children become.

I hope this helps reduce your worries.

3/14/98


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

 

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