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by Abigail Van Buren

Effeminate Boy Will Not Necessarily Become Gay

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with two sons, ages 10 and 18, both of whom I love very much. I am becoming more and more concerned about my 10-year-old, "Trevor." Trevor has many interests and is highly intelligent for his age. But his interests trouble me.

While most boys pour over baseball cards and speak of little girls, Trevor has taken an interest in cooking and dance. He doesn't mix well with other boys, is teased constantly and hates the walk to school. He is effeminate and introspective. I have come to the conclusion that Trevor is a homosexual -- or rather, will be when he's more developed.

My question to you, Abby, is -- what can I do to make this "coming out" process easier on my son? I support him in his interests. I even bought him a cookbook for his birthday this year. Do you think it's too early to speak of sexuality to Trevor? Should I enroll him in karate? What do you think? -- WORRIED IN WOODLAND HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR WORRIED: You are a caring and supportive parent, but just because at age 10 Trevor seems slow in developing an interest in girls does not automatically guarantee that he's a budding homosexual. (He could be a budding Gene Kelly or Wolfgang Puck.)

The most important thing you can do for Trevor is to let him know you love him unconditionally, regardless of his eventual orientation, and that he can talk openly with you about anything that's on his mind. By all means talk to him about sexuality, in an age-appropriate way. The discussion should be one that is ongoing.

If your son is being harassed at school and on the way to school, discuss it with the principal. Your son is legally entitled to an education free of harassment.

Counseling might help Trevor repair his self-esteem. The counselor can help him decide the most effective means of dealing with the abuse he is receiving.