Monday, October 6, 2008

SSA In Adolescents

Adolescent Fears

Another pastoral problem is that of the adolescent boy or girl who fears that he or she is a homosexual. In light of the fact that much adolescent homosexuality is transitory, the counselor should caution the young person against drawing hasty conclusions. If one realizes that there are deep problems present, one should refer the person to a professional therapist and await an analysis. Usually, it is not clear to the counselor that the adolescent has same-sex attractions. Unfortunately many counselors have accepted the prevailing opinion of our culture, namely, that once one has SSA, the condition cannot be changed. Indeed, some counselors would advise adolescents that feelings of same-sex attraction call for entry into a homosexual lifestyle.

There is good reason to believe that many youth undergo "sexual identity confusion." They do not understand that their homosexual condition may be transitory, a form of pseudo-homosexuality rooted in various motivations. Ruth Barnhouse, for example, sees much adolescent homosexual activity as indicating unresolved problems of dependence and power, and these are the issues that should be addressed. Whatever the complexity of the homosexual conidition in a given youth, it must not be presumed that one cannot be helped to develop heterosexual potential. For this reason one should be persuaded to avoid frequenting gay clubs and associations, gay movie houses, and the viewing of pornography. One should also take steps to become part of some Catholic youth organization in which one can grow in the life of the Church and in his or her identity as a young man or woman created in the image of God. The counselor also should become a friend, not in the sense of a peer buddy, but in the sense that the young person knows that he or she can confide in the counselor without fear of reproof or betrayal.

In some cases, the counselor may find it advisable to encourage the adolescent to inform his parents concerning his apparent same-sex attractions; in other instances, it may be best that the counselor work with the adolescent and if possible, with a priest, so that the youngster will have adequate guidance without having to inform his parents. The young person may have some very difficult obstacles at home that cause him to be too afraid to speak to his or her parents about his struggle with same-sex attractions. This will have to be a decision of the counselor and the young person. If a youngster is afraid to tell his parents that he has SSA, he should seek help from an informed priest who might be able to mediate between the young person and his family. Whether the parents would want the younger members of the family to know about the SSA in their brother or sister is a matter of prudence. My opinion is that such information should not be shared with younger siblings. In my judgment there is also no gain in such a revelation to a family member who does not make the distinction between a chaste and an unchaste person with same-sex attractions. Also, it is not certain that the adolescent will continue to experience predominantly same-sex attractions. It would mean that the youth or adult with SSA does better in having one person in whom one can totally confide while concealing such inclinations from others. Beyond some family members and perhaps a trusted friend, it is imprudent to reveal one's sexual identity issues to fellow students or workers for the reasons already given with respect to the family. It may lead to cruel and inhumane treatment by others. We must not be fooled by the urging of society "to come out of the closet" becaue "gay is good."

The adolescent girl often confuses a "crush" she has on an older girl or a female teacher as a form of homosexuality. She should be shown that she is simply going through a stage of strong admiration and needs to take care not to make an idol out of another person. Meanwhile, she must continue to seek friends within her peer group and learn to form good human relationships with both sexes.

(Source: Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice by Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS)

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