Date of Conferral

2018

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Susana Verdinelli

Abstract

Parents who experience their children's coming out encounter emotional reactions that could compromise their ability to function, particularly when challenged by the Catholic doctrine towards homosexuality. It is not well known how Latino parents experience their children's coming out and how they mediate their Catholic identity. The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of these parents considering phenomenology as the method of inquiry. The theoretical lens was based on the parental acceptanceâ??rejection theory. The research questions addressed how Latinos experienced the coming out of their children and how they mediated their identities as Catholics and as parents of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) child. The data for this study consisted of 12 interviews with parents using an open-ended, and a semistructured format. A total of 6 themes (disclosure of an LGB identity, conflicts, help towards conflict resolution, church support, acceptance, and identity consolidation) and 10 subthemes (suspicion of an LGB identity, unexpected disclosure, internal, family, cultural and church conflicts, God's love, unconditional love, parenting pride, and Catholic pride) emerged from the analysis. The results indicated that Latino parents underscored the positive qualities of their LGB children while other Latino parents criticize the Catholic doctrine towards homosexuality. In conclusion, the notion of an all-loving and all-accepting God prompted Latinos to consolidate their identities as Catholic and as parents of a LGB child. Implications for positive social change include the education of behavioral health professionals and the Catholic clergy to enhance their professional competencies to assist Latino parents seeking counseling services or seeking spiritual care within the Roman Catholic Church.

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