Efforts to change gay people to straight sometimes called "conversion therapy" have been proven to be ineffective and can be harmful. Knowing one's sexual orientation — whether straight or gay — is often something that kids or teens recognize with little doubt from a very young age. For most people, coming out takes courage. They feel comfortable and secure about being attracted to people of the same gender. It happens due to the hormonal changes of puberty. Others wonder whether the news is really true and whether their teen is sure. Being gay is also not considered a mental disorder or abnormality. Some also struggle to reconcile their teen's sexual orientation with their religious or personal beliefs. These new feelings can be intense, confusing, sometimes even overwhelming.
Other parents feel upset, disappointed, or unable to accept their teen's sexual orientation at first. They feel they have known all along, even before their teen came out to them. Heterosexuals are often called "straight. It can be reassuring for them to learn about openly gay people who lead happy, successful lives. Thinking sexually about both the same sex and the opposite sex is quite common as teens sort through their emerging sexual feelings. In some situations, teens who are openly gay may risk facing more harassment than those who haven't revealed their sexual orientation. But in addition, gay and lesbian teens often deal with an extra layer of stress — like whether they have to hide who they are, whether they will be harassed about being gay, or whether they will face stereotypes or judgments if they are honest about who they are. And despite gender stereotypes, masculine and feminine traits do not necessarily predict whether someone is straight or gay. These changes involve both the body and the mind — so just thinking about someone attractive can cause physical arousal. People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: For them, it can feel like everyone is expected to be straight. Teens are beginning to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others. It happens due to the hormonal changes of puberty. And they might feel protective, worrying that others might judge or reject their child. How Parents Might Feel Adolescence is a time of transition not just for teens, but for their parents too. Efforts to change gay people to straight sometimes called "conversion therapy" have been proven to be ineffective and can be harmful. They might feel they need to deny who they are or hide an important part of themselves. Once aware, some gay teens may be quite comfortable and accept their sexuality, while others might find it confusing or difficult to accept. They often feel glad that their child chose to confide in them, and are proud of their child for having the courage to tell them. With time, even parents who thought they couldn't possibly accept their teen's sexual orientation are surprised to find that they can reach a place of understanding. Some also struggle to reconcile their teen's sexual orientation with their religious or personal beliefs. Many gay teens worry about whether they will be accepted or rejected by their loved ones, or whether people will feel upset, angry, or disappointed in them. They might wonder if they did something to cause their child to be gay — but they shouldn't. They may feel like they have to pretend to feel things that they don't in order to fit in. Many decide to tell a few accepting, supportive friends and family members about their sexual orientation. And recognizing one's sexual orientation is part of that process. It can take time for gay teens to process how they feel and to accept this aspect of their own identity before they reveal their sexual orientation to others.
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