Talking to teens who are gay


#1

I teach at a catholic school and have been mentoring a few girls who are both 17… they’ve been dealing with depression, crises of faith, broken families… the list goes on. I have a special bond with them because I’ve known them for several years, and they trust me enough to talk to me about their problems. Their parents have been harsh… even abusive at times… and they’ve told me that they feel comfortable around me because they know they’ll be respected, accepted, and not judged.

I’ve noticed these two girls have become very close over the year- to the point where it looks like an unhealthy relationship. It looks like it either has become or will soon become a lesbian relationship. On Friday, they lingered in my classroom after school, and I got the feeling that they were going to announce their relationship to me, but I was in a rush, so they left.

Since then, I’ve been trying to work through in my head how I will react and what I will say if and when they do tell me this. This is incredibly tough for me- it’s difficult for me to see them do something destructive to their spiritual and emotional lives, especially when I’ve seen them make such great strides to becoming more healthy people. I feel like they are undoing all the progress they made and will become more confused about who they are i the process.

I know that if this is the case, they will need me in their lives more than ever, so I don’t want to do or say anything that would drive them away. How do I do that, without affirming them in their relationship?


#2

Are you friends with the school psychologist? If you are, I would certainly begin there.


#3

Unfortunately, our school is very small and has limited resources. We don’t have a counselor on staff. There isn’t anyone in the faculty I would trust to talk about this with, so that lead me to post the question here.


#4

I would talk to a priest who may be able to help, or who could refer you to someone else.

Ed


#5

If they do tell you, don’t act like you have the answers to complex relationships. Say to them something to the effect of what your saying here in your post. “Well, I can’t affirm your relationship, but I love talking to you.” I don’t see why you would want to go any further than that as a first step into a new dynamic between you and them. Take the relationship one step at a time and continue your guidance. Don’t try to “jerk the wheel” in a corrective move.


#6

I agree with Ed, talk to your priest and see what he recommends.


#7

I suggest treating their relationship with dignity and respect, but I would try and let them know that there is something much better than sex (if you’re sure they are having sex), namely The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This does not apply to just homosexual relationships, but anybody in unmarried heterosexual relationships as well. Know also that God can bring great good even from sinful sex. Their love for each other should be preserved.


#8

Well, yes, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are better than everything – sex, ice cream, hiking in the mountains…

But that is hardly going to keep lines of communication open with teenagers who may be on the brink of committing grave sin because they are comforted by being deeply understood by a same-sex peer. Don’t underestimate the very real conflict that young people experience when they feel they have to choose between their sexuality and their spirituality.

Platitudes – no matter how lofty and truthful – are probably not going to change minds and hearts if they’re already set on some course of action.

To the OP, meet them where they’re at and develop and strengthen your relationship with them. You may be completely wrong in your assessment. So listen to what’s really going on and just be straight up with them. “I’m not sure what to say,” or “I’m concerned for you about this choice” are both valid things to say.

God bless you all!


#9

It’s definitely a tough issue. No one likes to be told the love they have found is wrong. Modern society doesn’t help because they convince young people that same-sex relationships are totally normal and anyone who says otherwise is close-minded and a bigot. I think one key strategy is to separate love and intimacy. We are called to love one another. And love comes in many forms. Sometimes that love can be very strong and personal, but it is not always appropriate to allow it to lead to intimacy. As humans we have a tendency to want a strong bond to lead to intimacy and we find ways to justify such intimacy. I don’t know if any of this will help. Remind them that it’s okay to care deeply for someone, but there are limits to our desires.


#10

They appear to be suffering from similar emotional ills and thus find understanding and solace in each other’s presence. Girls are often somewhat mutually affectionate. Are you sure it is anything more than this? Is this a coed school?

I guess they may one day say to you that they are gay. I suppose, in the first instance, you may be able to say little more than “how can I help you?”


#11

I was wondering myself why the OP assumes that the two girls might be lesbians and that there is or will be a sexual component to their relationship? Same sex attraction is not something that just naturally grows for young people out of an abusive or broken home life.


#12

Thanks for all your thoughts/suggestions. It seems at this point I can’t do much more than let them know I care about them, am concerned about them, and am always ready to talk.

I don’t know for certain that it is a sexually active relationship- as far as I’m concerned, that’s none of my business- but it is clear to me that it is a very unhealthy relationship. Having taught high school for 11 years, I have a good sense of what is “normal” teenage behavior… in this relationship, they clearly relate to each other as lovers and not as friends. They’ve become increasingly open about it in the past month, and it looks like it won’t be much longer before they publicly “come out”… and I want to prepare for if/when that happens.


closed #13

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