Actress Kristy McNichol has come out as a lesbian in hopes of helping keep children from being bullied.

McNichol, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen for two decades, decided to make a public statement about her sexuality as she approaches the age of 50. She told People magazine in a statement through her publicist she wants to be open about who she is. 

McNichol's publicist told People she is very sad about kids being bullied and she hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different.

McNichol lives in Los Angeles with her partner, but she hasn't acted in years. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1992 and halted her television acting career, though she was once cited in a Fox Family Guy episode by Peter Griffin (see video below) to come back to acting.  She started in the TV drama Family, winning two Emmy Awards, and also the show Empty Nest. 

McNichol was also in films, such as with Tatum O'Neal in Little Darlings in 1980.

She is very happy and healthy, her publicist told People Magazine. And she enjoys living a very private life.

McNichol plays tennis, does yoga and has miniature dachshunds, her publicist said.