Many parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens feel uneasy and uninformed when it comes to talking to them about sex and dating, a new study shows.
The study included 44 parents of LGBT teens between the ages of 13 and 17. The parents cited many challenges in trying to educate their teens about sex, including general discomfort in talking about it, and feeling unable to offer accurate advice about safe LGBT sex.
"Parents play an important role in helping their children learn how to have healthy sexual relationships, but they really struggle when discussing this with their LGBTQ teens," study author Michael Newcomb said. He is associate director for scientific development at Northwestern University's Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing.
The study was published recently in the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy.
"We need resources to help all parents -- regardless of their child's sexual orientation or gender identity -- overcome the awkwardness and discomfort that can result from conversations about sexual health," Newcomb said in a university news release.
He noted that a healthy and supportive relationship with parents is a key predictor of positive health outcomes in teens of all sexual orientations.
"Many parents and their LGBTQ teens want to have supportive relationships with one another, so if we can design programs to strengthen these relationships, it could have a tremendous impact on LGBTQ teens' health and wellbeing," he said.
In a separate study, institute researchers examined how gay and bisexual boys between 14 and 17 felt about talking to their parents about sex.
"We found that many of the gay and bisexual male youth in our study wanted to be closer to their parents and to be able to talk about sex and dating," study lead author Brian Feinstein said in the news release.
"However, most of them said that they rarely, if ever, talked to their parents about sex and dating, especially after coming out. And, even if they did talk about sex and dating with their parents, the conversations were brief and focused exclusively on HIV and condom use," Feinstein said. He is a research assistant professor.
That study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers resources for LGBT youth and their families.
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