Thursday, July 12, 2007

I worry about gay and lesbian teens on Whidbey Island

Yesterday was about as hot as it gets here on Whidbey (85, or so, I think) and I wasn't looking forward to going to the second meeting of an adhoc group to get a chapter of PFLAG started up again here. But I overcame my heat-induced lethargy, pushed myself out the door and went up to Greenbank to spend a couple of hours with some other folks who are worried about the lack of resources on Whidbey for families and individuals struggling with sexual identity issues.

And I'm very glad I did. First of all, it was a lot cooler at Greenbank than it was in my living room and the meeting raised my hopes. Several straight parents and allies and several gay or questioning couples attended, shared a potluck meal and a lot of thoughts about how to reach out to same sex couples with children, youth and young adults, and parents with concerns about their gay children.

I have been active as a straight ally to the BGLTIQ community since a college friend came out to me in the early 70's. She was willing to answer all my questions honestly and I learned enough about this inherent and clearly natural trait that it resolved my hesitations about homosexuality as a normal way of being. Later, I learned that all animal species exhibit same sex attraction behavior. Gosh, if cows do it, how can it be a sin? And why would the Creator create a person to be attracted to his/her same sex and then outlaw the expression of that attraction? (In case you are thinking that God created pedophiles, I beg to differ. Pedophiles are made, not born, IMHO; human beings who abuse children create pedophiles.)

During my years as a junior high and middle school counselor, I worked with many early teens who exhibited angry or depressed behavior, making suicide attempts, sometimes becoming school phobic or otherwise troubled, dealing with harassment and bullying because of their mannerisms or appearance. In several such instances, I learned later that the teen had come out as gay or lesbian.

We didn't talk much about sexual orientation or gender identity in those days. But my approach to counseling changed when I took part in a seminar sponsored by PFLAG, designed to help school counselors deal with their closeted (or not) teen students. I learned to recognize the anguish about identity and authenticity which could not be expressed safely and I learned to be respectful but direct in counseling my students. I have a special fondness for those young people who were willing to share their true nature with me; what a privilege it has been to be entrusted with that knowledge.

And I hurt for kids who don't have a safe place, a safe adult to share themselves with. I hope we are able to provide that safe place, that safe, non-predatory adult, for our Whidbey youth, as they learn about themselves and their sexuality. If you are a youth who is looking for a safe place or friend on Whidbey, contact me at

1 comment:

Miss Kitty said...

I wish we had more groups like yours here in Georgia. Teens here still cannot form PFLAG (or other GLBT) groups in high schools. Sad, sad, sad. I've met quite a few college stduents at D2U who are still dealing with the rage of being thrown out of their own homes/families. One such student ended up in a mental hispital last year after a suicide attempt.