The study has shown that specific parental and caregiver behaviors such as advocating for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity or supporting their gender expression-protect against depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in early adulthood.
In addition, LGBT youth with highly accepting families has significantly higher levels of self-esteem and social support in young adulthood.
"At a time when the media and families are becoming acutely aware of the risk that many LGBT youth experience, our findings that family acceptance protects against suicidal thoughts and behaviors, depression and substance abuse offer a gateway to hope for LGBT youth and families that struggle with how to balance deeply held religious and personal values with love for their LGBT children," said Caitlin Ryan, of the San Francisco State University.
The study, authored by Ryan and her team from the Family Acceptance Project, has critical implications for changing how families relate to their LGBT children and how LGBT youth are served by a wide range of providers across disciplines and systems of care, including custodial care systems such as foster care.
The study was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.