Sunday, September 20, 2015

Honor Thy Grandparents

Last week, last Sunday to be exact was an important day.  It wasn’t ushered in with greeting cards last August like Halloween or heralded on television, but nevertheless it was mentioned quietly on Twitter and then left the building.

What exactly was Sunday, September 13, 2015?  It was Grandparents Day, usually the first Sunday after Labor Day.  Google tells me that" it’s a day for young and old to honor each other and an opportunity for civic engagement for all generations."

Its purpose is three-fold:

To honor grandparents.
To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children‘s children.
To help children become aware of strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

Grandparents Are Great Because…

But more importantly, grandparents can provide unconditional love to their grandkids.  They won’t badger you to practice piano, won’t get upset if you get a C+, instead of an A, on an American History exam and won’t ask you daily “you’re going to wear that to school?”

Extended family is so essential for an understanding of yourself but it’s especially valuable for grandchildren who may feel insecure like LGBT kids.  Research shows that LGBT kids are harassed at school with school personnel doing precious little to protect them.

While their straight parents do the best they can to soften the blow of bullying, they themselves may be fearful for their children getting hurt physically and emotionally. Bullying is now 24/7 thanks to social media and does invade one’s home.  If the child has a job, he/she could be fired for being gay on a whim in many states.

As the result of society’s homophobia, the grandchild could have low self-esteem and higher rate of substance abuse than his heterosexual peers.  He/she could use an extra hug, note, Skype from Grandma and Grandpa.

Not only do grandparents provide unwavering support for grandkids, but they can be an enormous help to the straight parent also who may feel overwhelmed trying to deal with the issues raising a gay child.  With no role models of families with gay kids, it is easy for the parent to become insecure in his parenting skills.

By providing a non-judgmental ear as well as shouldering some of the responsibility for raising the child, grandparents can be invaluable.  They can be a parent’s and a child’s best cheerleader!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Have Teen Idols Taken The New Fluidity Too Far?

Last week, The New York Times contributor Charles Blow wrote about “Sexual Attraction and Fluidity” in which he called Miley Cyrus’s comments about her OMNISEXUALITY (Cyrus dubs it pansexuality) “charming” and “revolutionary.”

This Is A Role Model?

While Blow, a well-known commentator, points out that Cyrus’s attitude towards sex is representative of recent surveys about fluidity, I find Cyrus has gone a bit too far.  Her latest song “Bang Me Box has downright graphic lyrics bordering on obscenity.

I am sick of her gyrating, sticking her tongue out, and trying to shock.  Madonna and Mick Jaeger entertained the same way, years before she was born in 1992!  While I don’t expect her to remain the squeaky clean Hannah Montana of Disney fame, does she have to appear almost naked at every MTV and Oscar event? She is a terrible role model for teens.

CYRUS Supports LGBTQ Community

I admire her for launching The Happie Hippie Foundation, an organization serving homeless and LGBTQ youth and her song for “Hands of Love, for the movie about two lesbians starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore, is soft and subdued, I think she was trying to get notorious publicity in her last two interviews.

Cyrus told Elle UK “:  “ I’m very open about it – I’m pansexual.” She also told Paper Magazine: I’m literally open to every single things that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age.  I’m down with any adult – anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me.”

What Recent Studies Say About Fluidity…

Studies by Ritch Savin-Williams, Director of Sex & Gender Lab at Cornell University and author of Lives of Lesbians & Gays, and Bisexuals (1996) point to the fact that the young, in particular, don’t like to be labeled as one fixed sexual orientation.  Their identity doesn’t fit into one box; it’s fluid.  Even Alfred Kinsey knew this in the 1940’s when he devised a sexuality scale, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual.

More recently, YOUGOV asked British adults to plot themselves on Kinsey’s scale.  The results?  The survey found that “while 89% of the respondents describe themselves as heterosexual, the results for 18-24-year-olds are particularly striking, as 43% place themselves in the non-binary area between 1 and 5 and 52% slotted themselves at one end or the other.  Of these, only 46% say they are completely heterosexual and 6 percent as completely homosexual.”

How did Americans surveyed differ?  YouGov found, after using the same scale, “that 29% of under 30’s put themselves somewhere on the category of bisexuality.”

What Parents Can Say…

Yep, the world is becoming more fluid and receptive to sexual experiences that can’t be classified as strictly heterosexual, just mostly heterosexual. Parents, when they discuss sexuality with their teens, may want to discuss fluidity and terms such as pansexuality.  But throw in some morals while you’re at it, you don’t want your child to turn out slut-like Miley, even if he/she worships her!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

National Suicide Prevention Week Starts Tomorrow

World Suicide Prevention Day is September10th.

Being LGBT itself is not a risk factor for suicide, but the negative treatment that many LGBT teens endure can lead to suicidal feelings. LGBT teens whose parents accept them are healthier and will stay that way into adulthood.

The first major study of families of LGBT youth, The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State, showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents growing up in families that did not accept them as gay were:
8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide.
5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression.
3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs than kids whose families were more accepting.

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide.

With cyberbullying of LGBT teens so prevalent, sometimes resulting in suicide, it’s helpful to memorize this acronym: Is Path Warm?
I – Ideation or having a plan about suicide
S-  Substance Abuse
P –Purposelessness
A- Anxiety
T- Trapped
H- Hopelessness
A- Anger
R- Recklessness
M- Mood Changes

The warning signs of acute risk:
Threatening to hurt or kill himself/herself or talking of wanting to hurt or kill himself or herself .
Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means, and/or
Talk or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Preventive Measures Against Suicide

Create a safe and accepting home environment.
Call a mental health professional or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral if you see behavior changes in your LGBT child.
If your child is acting in a way that is self-destructive, causing themselves physical harm or speaking actively about harming themselves or others, seek help immediately.
U.S. Suicide Helplines:
The Trevor Project Lifeline: 866-488-7386.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.