Parental acceptance and illegal drug use among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents: results from a national survey

Soc Work. 2010 Jul;55(3):265-75. doi: 10.1093/sw/55.3.265.


Although gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) adolescents face many of the same developmental challenges as do heterosexual adolescents, they must also deal with the stress of being part of a stigmatized group. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which family support and involvement with the queer community may buffer the effects of life stress on substance use among GLB youths. Drawing on a large national online survey, the authors examined drug use in 1906 GLB youths 12 to 17 years of age. Overall, 20 percent of the youths reported using illegal substances in the past 30 days. Results from multivariate analyses revealed that stress, as measured by suicidal ideation, significantly increased the risk of drug use. A positive reaction from the mother to the youth's coming out served as a significant protective factor, whereas involvement in a queer youth group had no effect. The authors found evidence that, for GLB adolescents, parental acceptance of sexual identity is an important aspect of a strong family relationship and, thus, has important ramifications for their healthy development. Implications of the findings for social work practice are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality*
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • United States
  • Young Adult