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 staff.


My two-year-old daughter is currently living with my ex-wife, who is gay. Will her being homosexual hurt my child?


I'm so glad you asked this question. There are several reasons people worry about having their children in contact with lesbian, gay and bisexual people. One is the concern that the children will be molested. There is no scientific evidence to support the notion that children are more likely to be molested by homosexuals than by heterosexuals. The evidence is clear that most child molesters are heterosexual men. Certainly a small number are bisexual, gay or lesbian, but no more than one would expect given our proportion in the population.

Another concern is that the children of homosexuals will be more likely to be homosexual than the children of heterosexuals. First I want to say that I don't consider having a minority sexual orientation to be negative, so I'm not concerned about children being lesbian, gay or bisexual. I'm much more concerned that they be raised in loving environments and become healthy people. Further, there's no conclusive evidence that children of gay people are less likely to be heterosexual than children of heterosexuals. If you consider that most bisexuals, gays and lesbians are raised by heterosexuals, it's clear that the sexual orientations of the parents have limited impact on the orientations of their children.

Finally, many people would prefer that their children be heterosexual because of the prejudice in the world toward those who are not. While it's normal for parents to want to protect their children from harm, I believe it is more harmful to try to hide or repress an important part of yourself than it is to avoid prejudice. If you teach your children to love themselves and to be good people, you will have given them the tools to face a world that is sometimes prejudicial and irrational.

If you would like more information, I recommend the PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) web site as a starting place. You can reach it from our Resources Department.


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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