FERNDALE (WWJ) – More than two dozens concerned citizens and policy leaders spent Friday in Ferndale listening to new research on how to increase the health and well being of youth in the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community.

WWJ’s Kathryn Larson reports that nationally known educator in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community,  Dr. Caitlin Ryan, spoke to those gathered about how to help youth “come out”  in a safe and positive way.

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Dr. Ryan, the founder of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University spent Friday at Affirmations in Ferndale speaking with everyone from parents to policy makers about how to make a difference in the lives of LGBT teens and she says it starts at the home.

Ryan says parents need to remain calm when teens come out and keep communication open:

“Those LGBT teens and adults are eight and a half times as likely to have tried to take their own lives, compared with their peers with families that were not at all rejecting,” said Ryan.

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Dr Ryan says her study finds open communication and loving behaviors are key when a family rejects an LGBT youth.

Ryan says if parents don’t support their teens — the results could be dire.

“By reducing those rejecting behaviors they can decrease their childs’ risk for suicide dramatically,” added Ryan.

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Find out more about the Family Acceptance Project HERE.