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October 11 is National Coming Out Day.
If you're a closeted gay or lesbian, will today be the day you choose to come out? If you do, know that there is a social media movement encouraging individuals to come out. Started by a group of activists in California, it's called the #CountMeOut campaign.
There's also support from celebs like Ke$ha.
The goal of National Coming Out Day is to encourage greater acceptance of the LGBT community. It also encourages closeted individuals to come out to family members and friends. It is a way for youngsters can be protected and can find emotional support.
And support is something that gay teens likely need. LGBT youth are at high risk of suffering through verbal and physical harassment. A survey in 2009 conducted by the CDC showed that 8 out of 10 LGBT high school students had been verbally harassed and 4 out of 10 had been physically harassed. The majority of those surveyed felt unsafe at school.
LGBT youth are also more at risk for suicidal behaviors. Some parents also react negatively to closeted kids coming out, so LGBT teens are more likely to be homeless.
What can concerned parents do? Talk to their children. Parents should openly discuss issues like bullying and suicide. Also, be aware that the way that parents react to the news that their child is gay will likely have a strong impact on their child's emotional well being.
But should a person choose National Coming Out Day to come out? It's ultimately up to the individual. After all, coming out is a very personal decision. You should never force someone to come out until they're ready, and that can take years.