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NPR on Coming Out in Middle School

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Fresh off his story for The New York Times Magazine on coming out in middle school, Benoit Denizet-Lewis talks to NPR about the article and what social factors might be contributing to young people coming out earlier.

Denizet-Lewis says he has been working on the piece off and on for four or five years and that the article really started to take form when many educators and leaders of youth groups began to observe that the coming-out process -- which for past generations generally happened in college or, later, high school -- is now happening as early as 12 and 13 years old.

"Schools really didn't know what to do," he says. "They had the same reaction that a lot of people do... a lot of adults do. They were saying, 'Isn't that too young to be dealing with these issues?'"

The NPR segment discusses the two realities for kids coming out this young. For some, Denizet-Lewis says, coming out in middle school makes these kids stronger, encountering support at home as well as from friends. Others, he says, face very real danger -- bullying, discrimination, and, in some cases, even death.

The major benefit to coming out younger, he says, is that it allows these kids to experience adolescence at the same time as their peers.

"What I think you're going to see," Denizet-Lewis says, "as more and more kids come out younger and are allowed to have a normal adolescence -- I talk to kids who talk to their parents about going on dates at 15, 16, or 17, about going to the prom. I think it's going to create an entirely different kind of gay adult in the next 10, 20, 30 years."

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