Seven suicides within two years at one suburban school district outside Minneapolis has enflamed a culture war between teachers, parents, and national interest groups in regards to the district’s policy of leaving the discussion on homosexuality outside of the classroom.
Yet research shows that the risk of suicide decreases by 20% for each year that a person delays homosexual or bisexual self-labeling. Suicide attempts were not explained by experiences with discrimination, violence, loss of friendship, or current personal attitudes towards homosexuality. (Source: Risk Factors for Attempted Suicide in Gay and Bisexual Youth by Remafedi, Farrow, and Deisher, in Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics 87: 869-875 June 1991.)
Schools should not encourage teens to self-identify as “gay” before they have matured. During adolescence, sexual attractions are fluid and do not take on permanence until early adulthood. Rather than affirming teenagers as “gay” through self-labeling, educators should affirm them as people worthy of respect and encourage teens to wait until adulthood before making choices about their sexuality. If teens are encouraged to believe that they are permanently “gay” before they have had a chance to reach adulthood, their life choices are severely restricted and can result in depression. Once a child self-identifies as “gay,” he or she is stuck with that label because gay activists and other heterophobic influences refuse to acknowledge that an individual can leave homosexuality.
Suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress. Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin.