How Homophobia Hurts Children : Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community book cover
1st Edition

How Homophobia Hurts Children
Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community

ISBN 9781560231646
Published December 26, 2001 by Routledge
238 Pages

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Book Description

Homophobia hurts kids. Explore ways to minimize that trauma!

This book illustrates the ways that children growing up to be gay are harmed by homophobia before anyone, including themselves, even knows they are gay. This compelling and sympathetic volume describes many simple ways that these children can be helped to understand that they can grow up to lead normal lives, with hopes and dreams for their futures. How Homophobia Hurts Children: Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community brings home the voices of these children. They describe their experiences to show how they came to the frightening recognition that they are part of a group held in disregard by the rest of society, even sometimes by their own families.

Dr. Jean M. Baker, the author of How Homophobia Hurts Children: Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community is a clinical psychologist and the mother of two gay sons. In this book she shares her experience as both psychologist and mother to show how the myths and fallacies about homosexuality have influenced parents, schools, churches, and lawmakers to send children the cruel message that if they are gay, they are not normal and will not be able to lead normal lives.

In this unique volume you'll find:

  • a chapter on identity development, following the Eriksonian model
  • interviews with high school students who are self-identified as gay
  • firsthand descriptions of the harassment and victimization of those perceived as gay in schools
  • research on how victimization at school affects gay youths
  • a discussion of the relatively new phenomenon of gay/straight alliances (gay support groups or clubs)
  • a chapter on transgender identity with interviews with four transsexual persons who describe their personal childhood experiences and their transition process
The focus of How Homophobia Hurts Children: Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community, centering on the social and familial experiences of children who will grow up to be gay but have not yet come to that realization, is unique. But beyond that, this book also explains how homophobia affects the attitudes of non-gay children by leading them to believe that it is acceptable to mistreat homosexuals. Finally, specific suggestions are made for changes in parenting and changes in school/classroom practices that could help prevent the harm that is inflicted upon so many of our gay children. Everyone who comes in contact with children on their way to becoming gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender adults needs to read this book!

Table of Contents


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Shame Can Shatter Their Dreams
  • Homophobia: A Respectable Prejudice
  • The Gay Rights Movement
  • The Homosexual Debate: Pathology or Normal Variation?
  • Growing Up in a Homophobic Culture
  • What Is It Like to Grow Up Gay?
  • Adult Attitudes
  • Chapter 2. Myths and Fallacies
  • Myth: Homosexuality Is a Mental Illness
  • Myth: Homosexuality Can Be Cured
  • Myth: Homosexuality Is a Choice
  • Myth: Homosexuals Are Sexual Molesters
  • Myth: Homosexuals Will Convert Children to Homosexuality
  • Myths and Stereotypes Perpetuate Prejudice
  • Chapter 3. Identity Development
  • Erik Erikson's Stages of Child and Adolescent Development
  • Chapter 4. Coming Out
  • What Is Coming Out?
  • Early Childhood Experiences
  • Coming Out in High School
  • Coming-Out Models
  • What Do Youth Say About Coming Out?
  • Chapter 5. Parents and Families Coming Out
  • Why Should Parents Come Out?
  • How Do Parents React When They Discover Their Child Is Gay?
  • What Does Research Show?
  • Stages of Parental Coming Out
  • My Own Story
  • Mary Borhek's Story
  • Chapter 6. For All Parents
  • To Parents Who Don't Know Whether Their Child Is Gay
  • Family Reactions to Gay Children Coming Out
  • Comments
  • Chapter 7. What Happens to Gay Children at School?
  • Memories of Harassment and Intimidation
  • What Does Research Show About Harassment of Gays in Schools?
  • Cultural Permission for Antigay Harassment
  • The Hidden Gay Students
  • Intimidation and Harassment May Provoke Violence in Schools
  • Chapter 8. Students Tell Us How Schools Can Help
  • Actions Schools Can Take
  • A Gay Football Player Comes Out
  • Chapter 9. How Individuals Within the School System Can Help Gay Students
  • A Teacher's Coming-Out Story
  • What Else Can Teachers Do?
  • What Can School Counselors and School Psychologists Do?
  • What Can School Administrators and School Boards Do?
  • Chapter 10. Gay Youth Support Groups
  • Students Speak About the Groups
  • A School Nurse
  • An English Teacher
  • A Chemistry Teacher
  • A Librarian
  • Chapter 11. A School Climate Survey
  • Background
  • Why Students Did or Did Not Intervene
  • Why Gay Students Would or Would Not Feel Safe in School
  • Summary
  • Chapter 12. Transcending the Stigma
  • Are Gays and Lesbians Exceptional?
  • What's Good About Being Gay?
  • Chapter 13. Enlightened Mayor Seeks Acceptance for Gay Youths
  • Chapter 14. For Mental Health Professionals
  • Chapter 15. Legal and Social Policy Barriers and How They Affect Gay Children
  • The Right to Marry
  • Antidiscrimination Legislation
  • Antidiscrimination Policies in the Schools
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Gays in the Military
  • Archaic Sex Laws
  • Boy Scout Policies
  • Policies About AIDS
  • Antigay Hate Crimes
  • Changing Laws and Policies Can Help Our Gay Children
  • Chapter 16. Transgender Identity
  • Gender Benders
  • Transvestites
  • Androgyne
  • Transsexuals
  • Intersexed
  • Nature versus Nurture Revisited
  • Chapter 17. Personal Stories of Transsexuals Growing Up
  • Michael (Once Michelle)
  • Alexander (Once Virginia Allegra)
  • Mark (Once Vivian)
  • Jeffrey/Adrianna
  • Comments
  • Chapter 18. The Tipping Point
  • References
  • Index

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Baker, Jean M