Support group now forming for parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning children of any age.
San Rafael, California – Spectrum Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Center of Marin County is offering a free support group for parents and caregivers of children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 12, 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Spectrum, 30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 160, San Rafael.
“Whether your child has been ‘out’ to you for twenty years, or their sexual orientation or gender identity is still in question, this group provides a safe space for parents and other caregivers to explore their own feelings and concerns,” says Cristin Brew, MFT, Program Director at Spectrum LGBT Center.
Based in San Rafael, Spectrum LGBT Center provides resources and services to promote acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Research conducted over the past twenty years has shown that sexual orientation – a person’s emotional connection and attraction to another person – develops early. Both gay and straight children tend to develop their first attraction to another person at around age 10. Adolescents are much more likely to be open about their identity when they are not afraid of rejection, ridicule, or negative reactions from family and friends.
However, many parents feel uncertain when they learn their child is gay. They may not know how to react or support their child. They may have conflicting feelings about whether or not they should support their child, because they do not adequately understand what it means when their child tells them they are gay.
Current research conducted by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, demonstrates that LGBT young people who are rejected by their parents and caregivers are at very high risk for suicide or depression. They are also more likely than their straight peers to use illegal drugs.
“This new research from the Family Acceptance Project demonstrates the significance of parental acceptance or rejection toward a child who comes out to them as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” says Paula Pilecki, Executive Director of Spectrum. “Parents need a place to process their own feelings and discomfort, especially when they believe being gay or transgender is wrong.”
Since 1982, Spectrum has provided resources and support to LGBT youth through a weekly drop-in support group called Rainbow’s End. An estimated 25,000 youth ages 14-25 have found acceptance and friendship as a result of Spectrum’s work.
Parents, too, have turned to Spectrum for guidance when their children have revealed their sexual orientation or gender identity to be something other than what was assumed.
"I understand the turmoil parents might experience when they find out their child is gay," says Cynthia Wuthmann, parent of a gay son and volunteer for Spectrum's Speakers Bureau. "Parents need a safe place to process their own fears and feelings as they come to a greater understanding of how to best support their children during such a significant time."
ABOUT SPECTRUM’S PARENT SUPPORT GROUP:
Beginning in January 2010, Spectrum’s Parent Support Group will meet on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Spectrum, 30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 160, in San Rafael. Facilitated by Erin Gray, M.S., MFT Intern (Supervisor Nancy Gump, MA, MFT, MFC25530). The group is open to parents and caregivers of children of any age who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. To learn more, contact Cristin Brew, MFT, at (415) 472-1945, ext. 203.
Spectrum provides community leadership in promoting acceptance, understanding, and full inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. For more information visit http://www.spectrumlgbtcenter.org/.
Spectrum LGBT Center
30 North San Pedro Road, Suite 160
San Rafael, CA 94903