Coming out in middle school  SEP 29 2009

Gay and lesbian teens are coming out of the closet earlier and earlier with responses ranging from acceptance to "but you're so young".

Though most adolescents who come out do so in high school, sex researchers and counselors say that middle-school students are increasingly coming out to friends or family or to an adult in school. Just how they're faring in a world that wasn't expecting them -- and that isn't so sure a 12-year-old can know if he's gay -- is a complicated question that defies simple geographical explanations. Though gay kids in the South and in rural areas tend to have a harder time than those on the coasts, I met gay youth who were doing well in socially conservative areas like Tulsa and others in progressive cities who were afraid to come out.

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