Clinicians and parents share the goal of promoting the healthy development of children and their maturation into healthy, engaged, and happy adults who will have positive and mutually supportive relationships. A core component of healthy development is the development of one’s sexual identity, shaped by one’s sexual orientation. Though contemporary thinking conceptualizes sexual orientation as developing prenatally, its expression and subsequent sexual identity are shaped by postnatal experience and culture across infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and likely across the lifespan. Given that a non-heterosexual orientation still carries a level of stigma in most societies, adolescents who develop a lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) identity may face additional challenges to healthy development, primarily due to stigma and rejection. Pediatric healthcare providers can play an important role in supporting adolescents and their families, including sexual minority adolescents. In this paper, we will briefly summarize current knowledge on sexual orientation development, the health inequities sexual minority youth may experience, and recommended clinical practices to improve their healthcare access and promote healthy development.
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