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Study: Girls and Boys Who Act Like the Opposite Sex at Risk of Abuse

March 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Boys who act like girls and girls who act like boys are at risk of abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The researchers polled adults about their childhood preferences in toys and games and found that the girls who had preferred traditional boys' activities and the boys who liked such things as dolls had experienced more abuse from parents and others.

Maxine Thome counsels young people who are gay, lesbian and transgender.

"I can tell you that the internal struggle for people clearly indicates that sexual identity is not a choice. That's why so many people struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation."

The study suggests that schools and doctors screen for abuse in such children. Thome advises providing much more education around gender identity, so that children who are different will be kept safe rather than forced to conform. Last year, Nevada lawmakers passed a measure calling for a "week of bullying awareness" in the state.

Parents and others should avoid the so-called "cookie-cutter" approach to gender identity, Thome says, adding that children who enjoy games or toys associated with the opposite sex are not necessarily homosexual. She warns that trying to change them can be very harmful, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.

"Systems need to be structured so that they help a child or individual continue to identify as they wish to identify, protect them and educate those around them."

Thome says education and meaningful legislation could go a long way in protecting children.

"Anti-bullying laws need to be stronger and need to spell out the populations that are at risk for bullying."

The study found rates of post-traumatic stress disorder to be nearly twice as high in adults who as children had not conformed to traditional gender roles, than in those who had.

The study is at tinyurl.com/7p92ps2.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV