NYMC Faculty Publications

Topics for Inclusive Parent-Child Sex Communication by Gay, Bisexual, Queer Youth

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Behavioral Medicine

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Health Behavior and Community Health


The purposes of this study were to identify the sexuality-related topics parents and gay, bisexual, or queer (GBQ) adolescent males discussed at home and to describe the topics GBQ adolescent males recommend for parents to discuss with future cohorts of GBQ youth. Minimal research on parent-child sex communication with sexual minority adolescents prevents the development of interventions that would benefit adolescent males with same-sex attractions, behaviors and identities. As part of a multimethod qualitative study, we interviewed 30 GBQ adolescent males ages 15-20 and asked them to perform card sorts. From a list of 48 topics, we explored sexuality-related issues GBQ males were familiar with, the topics they discussed with a parent, and topics they suggested parents address with GBQ males at home. Most participants reported that parents assumed them heterosexual during sex talks prior to GBQ adolescent males' coming out. Participants challenged the heteronormative scripts used by parents when discussing sex and health. Participants identified sexuality topics that parents did not routinely cover during sex talks, but that GBQ youth felt would have been useful for them growing up with emergent identities. A non-heteronormative approach to parent-child sex communication is recommended to provide appropriate guidance about sex and HIV/STI prevention to this youth population. Our findings highlight a need to reconfigure parental sexuality scripts to be more inclusive when assisting GBQ males navigate adolescence.