Lesbian and gay children whose parents had a consistent perspective on the child’s sexual orientation, even if that perspective was negative, had better outcomes than those whose parents had changing perspectives.
Researchers presented these findings at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.
“The time a person discloses their sexual orientation is probably one of the most anxious times in their lives and also where their rate of well-being is the lowest,” researcher said. “I wanted to know what happens when a parent is supportive or rejecting at that moment, but also what would happen over time.”
Prior studies demonstrated a negative association between current levels of parental support and mental health or substance use disorder. In the current quantitative research study, authors aimed to assess whether parental support affected depression, anxiety or substance abuse over time among 177 adult cisgender lesbian (n = 77) and gay (n = 100) individuals who were recruited via social media. Participants completed demographic surveys, questions regarding parental initial and current support levels for participant sexual orientation, a Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 and Drug Use Questionnaire-20.
Participant groups included consistently positive, negative to positive and consistently negative according to their responses to initial and current level of parental support, with a fourth parental support group (negative to positive) excluded for being too small to analyze. Researcher analyzed each group’s scores using analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Results showed that although symptom scores were lowest among the consistently positive group, the difference between this group and the consistently negative group was insignificant. They noted significant findings for consistently positive and consistently negative groups compared with the negative to positive group. Overall, consistency in parental attitude appeared as significant as positivity toward the child’s sexual orientation.
“Depression and anxiety outcomes were significant when people had consistent parenting,” researcher said. “In the future, I would like to research what those people whose parents were rejecting did to support and buffer their mental health symptoms.”
Source: Verdun M. Poster 5426. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 1-3, 2021 (virtual meeting).