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The Children's Issues

Gay Boys


Coming Out in Middle School

Program Description

Real changes in politics, laws, and consciousness toward gay people have raised the possibility that sexual orientation is or will soon be pretty irrelevant. According to our first speaker, Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams, in his book, "The New Gay Teenager," the vast majority of same sex-attracted teens, simultaneously highlight their commonalities while challenging stereotypes. The culture of contemporary teenagers easily incorporates its homoerotic members: “It’s more than being gay-friendly. It’s being gay-blind.” The “new gay” or “post gay” students believe that the only way to lift the stigma of homosexuality is to be matter-of-fact about it.

Moreover, the gay-straight divide is becoming blurred. What’s becoming clear is that there is a highly variable continuum of sexual orientation, depending on the individual, ranging from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. Pretty obvious, really, and Dr. Savin-Williams has created a “Differential Developmental Trajectories Perspective,” to understand this.

How early does a child develop the awareness that he or she is drawn to others of the same sex? What goes into making a gay identity, especially at a young age when adolescent developmental issues are just beginning. How can parents understand that homosexual orientation is not a mental disorder and is not a matter of choice? In this interview, Dr. Robert Galatzer-Levy discusses his understanding and approach to working with these young children and their families.

Learning Objectives

Understand how much -- or how little -- sexual orientation matters to a young teenager's mental health or sense of identity,

Learn about Savin-Williams' concept of the Differential Developmental Trajectory as it regards young adolescents developing a sense of sexual identity.

Gain insight into the concerns of parents of young gay adolescents.

Learn about what not to say to these parents and adolescents.

Recognize the pluses and minuses of a young adolescent "coming-out."

Learn that the right thing for a therapist to encourage parents to do is to encourage their child to be free to think and feel what the child thinks and feels.

Interviews

Gay Boys: Coming Out in Middle School - Ritch Savin-Williams, Ph.D. website

Dr. Savin-Williams discusses the concepts of "Gay Blindness" and the "Differential Developmental Trajectory."

Gay Boys: Sexual Orientation and Psychotherapy - Robert Galatzer-Levy, M.D.

Dr. Galatzer-Levy discusses his work with young homosexual adolescents and their parents.

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