chapter  3
14 Pages

Identity Development

Gay and lesbian children go through the same general stages of development as heterosexual children, but their sexual orientation presents unique hurdles centering around their perceptions of being different-different from their peers, different from their parents. How gay children deal with their differentness and how the families and communities in which they grow up react to this differentness influences how accepting they will eventually be of their homosexual identity and of themselves as people. Homophobia and antigay prejudice may interfere with the developmental process at each stage of a child's development and may impose barriers to a healthy adolescent and adult identity. These barriers can be overcome if we change the social and family environments in which gay children grow up and if we change the ways the adults and peers in their lives react to them.