Physicians Unethical to Withhold ALL Facts from LGBTQ Youth

Gainesville, Florida – June 25, 2013 – The American College of Pediatricians (the College) applauds raising awareness of the health disparities among youth who claim a non-heterosexual identity, and is committed to promoting the best for all children. However, the College disputes the recent policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) claiming that elevated health risks associated with non-heterosexual sexual activity are due primarily to social stigmatization, and that pediatricians should affirm non-heterosexual attractions in adolescents as normal.

In its call to affirm LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) youth, the AAP overlooks the best interest of these adolescents.  Despite the AAP claim to the contrary, there is no evidence that the grave health risks, self-destructive behaviors, and struggles with self-image associated with the LGBTQ lifestyle are caused primarily by social stigmatization; the same elevated rates exist in countries long accepting of these lifestyles.  Delaying all sexual activity and delaying “coming out” during adolescence is the best way to avoid these negative consequences.

Savin-Williams and Ream in their 2007 research documented so many changes in sexual attractions among youth that they questioned whether the concept of sexual orientation had any meaning for adolescents. Seventy-five percent of adolescents who had some initial same-sex attraction between the ages of 17-21 ultimately declared exclusive heterosexuality.

Moreover, contrary to the AAP statement, rates of success and negative effects of psychotherapy aimed at changing homosexual attractions are on par with those of therapy aimed at other behavioral challenges. Not only is psychotherapy therefore appropriate to offer any questioning adolescent but it is unethical to withhold it.

Dr. Den Trumbull, president of the American College of Pediatricians, states, “In many cases, youth experience sexual confusion.  They need the private counsel of their parents, and sometimes the assistance of a therapist. They do not need persons of authority affirming that these feelings of same-sex attraction are inherent or fixed for life.”

The College encourages pediatricians to welcome all adolescents, regardless of sexual orientation or behavior. Patients expressing gender confusion or same-sex attractions need factual advice from their doctors, and sensitivity and patience from their families as they navigate the course together.

For more details about this matter, download the Fact Sheet on Sexual Development.

For more information on sexual development of youth, visit  our Facts About Youth website or the College website, www.Best4Children.org.