Family Acceptance Project Garners Important Recognition
May 18, 2012 by HRC staff
The following post is from HRC Welcoming Schools Director Kim Westheimer:
I had just begun to write a few words to congratulate the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), whose groundbreaking research and materials were recognized by the two national suicide prevention organizations, when my phone rang. It was an elementary school administrator concerned about a student who was struggling with same-sex attractions. This student was afraid to tell her parent - who often says negative things about gay people and believes that homosexuality is a sin. A child should not have to deal with this alone. She needs family support. This is where the FAP comes in.
FAP’s research shows that when parents and caregiver are coached to be just a little less rejecting and a little more accepting – they can reduce a young person’s risk for serious health problems, including suicide and HIV. Their work stresses that most parents want to be supportive of their children, even if they are fearful of their child being gay or transgender. The organization provides training and tools to help parents become more accepting.
“When we hold our baby in the nursery for the first time, no one tells us that our baby might be gay. By the time we know who our children are, we may have hurt them in many ways. No one teaches us how to help and protect our gay or transgender children. We may think we can help by trying to change them – but we need to love them for who they are.”
—Erica, mother of a 14-year-old transgender youth from the Family Acceptance Project’s booklet Supportive Families, Healthy Children
This work is particularly important as communities grapple with suicides by LGBT youth. FAP’s materials note that while recent media attention has focused primarily on the impact of bullying on self-harming behavior, suicide is typically the result of many interacting factors. We need comprehensive strategies and interventions to change the environment at the systems level. For LGBT youth, family systems are especially important.
To learn more about FAP’s work, download their booklet Supportive Families, Healthy Children at: http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/publications .
Information on Supportive Families, Healthy Children’s “Best Practice” designation is available on the Best Practices Registry’s webpage hosted by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at www.sprc.org .
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