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The Effects of Social Institutions on Homosexual Youth

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Those who have accepted their homosexual identity are overwhelmed in the school social atmosphere. Often isolated, alienated and withdrawn in fear that friends will find out. Their psychological and social demands to be heterosexual are directly opposed to their internal homosexual orientation. Suicide will appear to be their way out of the dilemma.

SOCIAL YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS. Gay youth find little comfort in social youth organizations because of the lack of programs that offer support for their orientation. Many such organizations have explicit policies forbidding the hiring of gay or lesbian staff which denies the gay youth positive role models. Myths that pedophiles are gay continue to plague the mindsets even when statistics show that the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are heterosexual. Hiding one's sexual orientation, placed in an environment in which negative attitudes and remarks go unchecked, the gay youth finds suicide a way out of the dilemma.

THE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. An insidious risk factor is one in which the health provider dealing with youth suicide attempt or sexual identity issues refuses to accept adolescent homosexuality as a valid orientation. It is not just a passing phase. Counselors have an obligation to work with the adolescent from their perspective, to open a line of communication that is essential to their ability to help. As a result of poor counseling, a weakened self-esteem and reinforcement of societal intolerance of homosexuality results in increased risk of suicide.

JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM. The gay youth who have become a ward of the court has little choice in foster home selection. Many times, the placement mirrors the one in which they left. In many states, gay and lesbian adults are prohibited from being foster parents, the myth of pedophiles again. So the youth is denied a positive role model. Group homes, like foster homes, lack the properly trained staff to deal with the discrimination and abuse of gay youth by other youth in the home.

Social institutions interweave throughout society, social intolerance to homosexuality affects the mental health of gay youth, and attitudes of, comments about and reactions to homosexual orientation reinforce suicidal behavior. Though change is slow, the society as a whole need to provide gay youth the same access to support and social activities afforded other youth in order to reduce their isolation and enhance their socialization skills to reduce the sense of despair at this age of development.

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After 26 years retiring from the Navy, then another 14 years as a psychotherapist retiring again, I have finally found time to be more active.
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