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Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child

by Michael C LaSala Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 304 pages
AU$57.99 NZ$61.73
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The discovery that a child is lesbian or gay can send shockwaves through a family. A mother will question how she's raised her son; a father will worry that his daughter will experience discrimination. From the child's perspective, gay and lesbian youth fear their families will reject them and that they will lose financial and emotional support. All in all, learning a child is gay challenges long-held views about sexuality and relationships, and the resulting uncertainty can produce feelings of anger, resentment, and concern.

Through a qualitative, multicultural study of sixty-five gay and lesbian children and their parents, Michael LaSala, a leading expert on this issue, outlines effective, practice-tested interventions for families in transition. His research reveals surprising outcomes, such as learning that a child is homosexual can improve familial relationships, including father-child relationships, even if a parent reacts strongly or negatively to the revelation. By confronting feelings of depression, anxiety, and grief head on, LaSala formulates the best approach for practitioners who hope to reestablish intimacy among family members and preserve family connections—as well as individual autonomy—well into the child’s maturation. By restricting his study to parents and children of the same family, LaSala accurately captures the reciprocal effects of family interactions, identifying them as targets for effective treatment. Coming Out, Coming Home is also a valuable text for families, enabling adjustment through relatable scenarios and analyses.

Foreword, by Monica McGoldrick
1. Family Sensitization
2. Family Discovery: Youth Come Out
3. Family Discovery: Parents React
4. Family Recovery
5. Family Renewal: The Gift of the Gay or Lesbian Child
6. Race and Ethnicity
7. Areas for Future Research and Concluding Thoughts
Appendix: Research Methodology

Coming Out, Coming Home is an informative and accessible book that contains myriad insights into the many obstacles, both internal and external, that families face as gay and lesbian children reach out for acceptance and support.
Michael C. LaSala, Ph.D. is director of the Masters of Social Work Program and associate professor at Rutgers University. He has been in practice for more than twenty-five years and is a much-sought-after lecturer and researcher. He currently treats LGBT families and individuals at the Institute for Personal Growth in Highland Park, New Jersey, and his work can be found in Social Work, Family Process, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Families in Society, and Journal of Lesbian and Gay Social Services.