A new study from two professors found that parents often take years to accept lesbian, gay or bisexual children.
David Huebner and Kathleen Roche, two associate professors of prevention and community health, published the study Wednesday with Kendrick Rith, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah. The researchers found that parents who were told of their child’s sexual orientation two years ago reported just as much difficulty adjusting to the information as parents who were told in the last two months.
“Surprisingly, we found that parents who knew about a child’s sexual orientation for two years struggled as much as parents who had recently learned the news,” Huebner told Science Daily. “Two years is a very long time in the life of a child who is faced with the stress of a disapproving or rejecting parent.”
Researchers surveyed roughly 1,200 parents of LGB children between the ages of 10 and 25 about themselves, their children and their experiences arising from their child’s sexual identity. The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, was funded in part by a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health.
Researchers also found that white parents had an easier time adjusting than black or Hispanic parents and that parents of older children had a harder time adjusting than parents of younger children. Neither the child’s nor the parent’s gender significantly affected how long parents need to adjust, the study found.
Parents who knew about their child’s LGB identity for at least five years reported experiencing the least difficulty on a five-point scale, researchers found. Huebner told Science Daily that most parents eventually adjust to the news and care greatly about their children regardless of sexual orientation.
“Our results suggest interventions to speed up the adjustment process would help not only the parents but also their children,” Huebner said. “LGB youth with accepting families are more likely to thrive as they enter adulthood.”