Released by La Trobe’s Australian Research Centre for Sexual Health and Society Writing Themselves in 3 contains the results of a national study on 3000 same-sex attracted teenagers aged between 14 and 21.
The survey did not ask any questions regarding religion, however, a significant number of young people mentioned religion within their responses, and used their personal experience ‘to tell their story.’
Of the respondents who mentioned that religion was a significant part of their lives, they were the group were ‘more likely’ to have experienced homophobic abuse at home.
Their sexuality was ‘less likely’ to be supported by their parents, siblings and school than those teenagers who did not cite a religious background.
They were also ‘less likely’ to feel good about their sexuality and feel guilty instead.
As one teenager said ‘being Christian made me hate myself’ and explained that he became ‘severely depressed.’
Principal researcher, Associate Professor Lynne Hillier said that while many same-sex attracted young people were thriving in some religious communities, it is a struggle for many others. She said that religion was mentioned most when responding to the questions on self-harm and feelings about their sexuality.
‘There is a conflict between same-sex attraction and religion in regard to family, friends, school and internal conflict with their own personal faith.’
‘We need to be aware of this when we consider that young people who are met with condemnation and rejection about their sexuality are more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide than those who have had a positive response.’
While some religious communities in Australia have shed themselves of homophobic beliefs and now include LGBT people in all aspects of religious life, the report says others remain steadfast in their traditions, and are increasingly out of step with both science and Australian law.
The report says parents play an essential role in determining how resilient same-sex attracted young people can be, but say parents should be able to access education and support to manage their own feelings of disappointment or apprehension.
The survey, the third since 2008, looks at a range of issues including sexual feelings, sexual behaviour, homophobia in the community, Internet use, sexuality education and school experience, religion and rural living. Please email [email protected] for a copy of the report.
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