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(First, a hat-tip to Zain for bringing up the study I discuss in this diary in the comments of Meteor Blade's astonishing diary on the rec list).

One of my favorite teachers in college once described sociology as the art of breaking down an unlocked door. Her point was that countless sociological studies tell us things that we, intuitively, already know. I don't think she meant to diminish the importance of sociology; rather she was gently poking fun at our cultural insistence that even those things that are most manifestly obvious must be proven.

And so it should come as no surprise that a new study shows that there is a connection between how families react to their children coming out and self-destructive behavior on the part of those children. Nonetheless, the publication of that study can serve as the point of departure for a discussion of some of the larger issues related to the LGBT experience in America, and some of the ramifications of that experience we've been discussing in recent weeks.

First, let's consider a few of the key findings of the study, as summarized at The Prevention Researcher:

Results of the study indicated that when compared to their peers from families with no or low levels of family rejection, the lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported high levels of family rejection during adolescence were:

• 8.4 times more likely to report attempting suicide
• 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
• 3.4 times more likely to report illegal drug use
• 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse

Our intuition, of course, has always told us that family acceptance will have an impact on how an LGBT child grows into adulthood. But the numbers here are still striking, even shocking.

It is in this context that I think people need to understand the outrage felt by many members of the LGBT community over the inclusion of first Donnie McClurkin then Rick Warren by Obama must be understood.

It is in this context that I reject Civil Unions as an alternative to marriage equality. Social acceptance matters; rejection has profound effects on the psyche of LGBT youth and, frankly, adults.

My own family was nothing but accepting when I came out to them. But I still internalized a great deal of the shame and disapproval towards LGBT identity that has poisoned the air in America all throughout my life. Even now, nearly two decades after I first peeked out of the closet, I still struggle with my own internalized homophobia, and it still has a negative impact on my life. It is something I will likely struggle with until the day I die.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. My parents embrace and accept who I am.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin." But when the sin is a core part of your identity, how can you love the sinner? When who you are is cast as sin, how can you love yourself?

So long as it is accepted that homosexuality is a sin, and that it is a condition that can be "cured," we will continue to see the parental rejection that leads to this:

• 8.4 times more likely to report attempting suicide
• 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
• 3.4 times more likely to report illegal drug use
• 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse

Originally posted to dedmonds on Tue Dec 30, 2008 at 10:39 AM PST.

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