Two perspectives on helping gay youth

As a counsellor with years of experience dealing with bullying issues and helping same-sex attracted youth, I thank Mr Daryl Yang Wei Jian for his advocacy for the support and protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth ("Address issue of LGBT"; Friday).

From my experience, I do find LGBT youth to be facing higher risk of depression, leading to suicide ideation.

However, it is an assumption that the solution would be to push the cause of affirming all alternative sexual identities and their accompanying lifestyles.

Statistically, same-sex attracted people do not do well, even in countries that have legalised same-sex marriage.

From my counselling experience, much of the emotional difficulties of same-sex attracted people stem from insecurities about their sexual identities.

One perspective of helping them will be to promote the acceptance of their sexual identities and mainstream and normalise it, along with the accompanying lifestyles.

However, if this is successful, everyone will have to conform to new moral norms, marital laws, changes in sexuality education, interference of state with parenting rights, controversial child-adoption or surrogacy policies, religious speech impeachment and the breaking down of the natural family unit.

The other perspective would be more conventional: Believing that if one's self-identity is broken, the way a person's self-esteem is wounded, then the solution will be to help restore the individual's esteem in his identity.

This solution includes accepting the person, wherever he is at, supporting him emotionally, protecting him in his environment, but not victimising others in the process, and encouraging him when he is ready to take steps towards restoring his confidence in who he really is.

This does not mean that the goal is to change a same-sex attracted individual's sexual orientation. Rather, it agrees with the fact that there are fundamental social-emotional issues affecting the same-sex attracted individual, which, if dealt with, will lower the incidence of suicide.

I do have many same-sex attracted friends who have found restoration of their social-emotional issues to a good extent. They are living happier lives compared with their past.

Let's all play our part to support same-sex attracted people, but be extra cautious about adopting a helping perspective that is not only presumptuous, but also potentially disastrous to society as well.

Leo Hee Khian

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.