Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation & Youth

Introduction

The APA and the other 12 organizations that comprise the Just the Facts Coalition have just published a new edition of Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel. (PDF, 254 KB) This group of national education, health, mental health and religious organizations believe that all students should have an opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment. Just the Facts provides information and resources for principals, educators, and school personnel who confront sensitive issues involving gay, lesbian, and bisexual students.

An APA press release announcing Just the Facts.

Sólo los hechos sobre la orientación sexual y la Juventud en Español

The information in this booklet has been developed by a coalition of education, health, mental health, and religious organizations that share a concern for the health and education of all students in schools, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual students.* We know you also share this concern—that all students have an opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment.

The reason for publishing this booklet now is to provide you, as principals, educators, and school personnel,with accurate information that will help you respond to a recent upsurge in promotion of efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy and religiousministries. This upsurge has been coupled with a demand that these perspectives on homosexuality be given equal time in schools.

Sexual orientation conversion therapy refers to counseling and psychotherapy to attempt to eliminate individuals’ sexual desires for members of their own sex. Ex-gay ministry refers to the religious groups that use religion to attempt to eliminate those desires. Typically, sexual orientation conversion therapy is promoted by providers who have close ties to religious institutions and organizations. Some religion-based organizations such as Focus on the Family have invested significant resources in the promotion of sexual orientation conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries to educators and young people in conferences, in advertising, and in the media.

This booklet provides information from physicians, counselors, social workers, psychologists, legal experts, and educators who are knowledgeable about the development of sexual orientation in youth and the issues raised by sexual orientation conversion therapy and ex-gay ministry.We hope that you and others who care about and work with youth will review the factual and scientific information provided here and weigh it carefully in responding to controversies about sexual orientation when they arise in your school.

* The Coalition is aware that it is becoming common to include “transgender”when one refers to “lesbian, gay, and bisexual.”However, the Coalition decided that it was not accurate in this instance to make that addition, because the subject is the promotion of therapies and ministries to change sexual orientation (attraction to the other sex, to one’s own sex, or to both), not gender identity (psychological experience of being male or female). The Coalition notes that the two populations of youths are not mutually exclusive. Some lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are transgender. Furthermore, those whose appearance and behavior are perceived as inconsistent with gender norms and roles are often targeted for sexual orientation discrimination and violence. By not including transgender in this booklet, the Coalition in no way intends to minimize the real concerns for the safety and well-being of transgender adolescents in schools.We have tried to include resources relevant to transgender youth in the Resources section (pp. 17–19).