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LGBTQ+ youth are less likely to feel depressed with parental support, study says

In this June 26, 2016, file photo, a woman holds a rainbow flag during the NYC Pride Parade in New York.
Seth Wenig
/
AP
In this June 26, 2016, file photo, a woman holds a rainbow flag during the NYC Pride Parade in New York.

Young people who identify as LGBTQ+ were less likely to report symptoms of depression when they had general support from their parents, according to a study published Tuesday.

Previous research has examined parental support directly tied to a person's LGBTQ+ identity, but the study, which was published by the University of Texas at Austin researchers in the Child Development journal, asked LGBTQ+ youth to answer how often their parents did things like say how proud they were of them or assisted them with activities.

Participants were also asked if their parents exhibited any psychologically controlling behavior, such as asserting their beliefs as the correct ones, whether their caregivers were aware of their LGBTQ+ identity and what kind of thoughts and feelings they had been having in the previous two weeks.

"Our research showed that those who felt greater social support from parents tended to have fewer depressive symptoms, whereas those who reported greater psychological control from parents had more depressive symptoms," said Amy McCurdy, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. "For youth whose parents did not know their LGBTQ identities, having a combination of high psychological control and high social support from parents was linked with greater depressive symptoms."

In a sample of 536 LGBTQ+ youth, ages 15 to 21, there were 252 men, 258 women and 26 people who identified differently from man or woman. A little over 35% of the participants identified as bisexual, 34% as gay, 20% as lesbian, 6.7% as questioning and 2.4% as both straight and transgender.

Researchers also examined other variables to reach their results, including race, age and whether or not participants received free or reduced-price lunch in school.

A 2021 survey of 9th- through 12th-graders by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 22% of LGBTQ+ teens reported experiencing sexual violence in the past year, and 52% of LGBTQ+ teens experienced poor mental health in the past year, with 1 in 5 saying they had attempted suicide during that period of time.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie