Ignorance can lead to fear and discrimination, neither of which is helpful in a parent-child relationship. Therefore, if you don’t know much about LGBTQ youth, it’s worth learning a little about it so that you are able to have informed, productive conversations with your child about his/her sexual identity. We’d recommend visiting your local library to see if you can check out a list of books. Also, understanding the following basic information is a good start:
- Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or transsexual is not a decision. Some people are born gay, like some people are born with blue eyes or brown hair. Just because your child is gay doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong as a parent (on the contrary, it seems that you’ve done something right, because your child trusts you enough to be upfront with you about his/her sexuality).
- Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or transsexual is not an illness. Therefore, it is not possible to ‘cure’ your child’s sexuality through psychotherapy. Not to mention, it’s unethical for a therapist to try to change a client’s sexual orientation and no respectable therapist would claim to be able to do so. Counseling, however, is useful in dealing with many of the issues that affect gay children and their parents, as we will discuss later.
- Your child is still the same person he/she was before coming out. Try not to think of your son or daughter as a completely different child than the one you’ve raised and loved all these years. Being gay is a part of his/her identity, but not the entire identity – just like your sexual orientation is only one aspect of who you are.
- Even though homosexuality is not as common as heterosexuality, it is not all that unusual. Approximately 10% of people are gay or report attraction to the same sex. (Interestingly, this is about the same percentage of people who are left-handed — you wouldn’t consider lefties extremely rare or abnormal would you?)
- Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or transsexual does not prevent someone having a wonderful family/home life in the future. Additionally, there are various options for gay couples that wish to have children, such as adoption, artificial insemination, etc. Plenty of gay men and women have raised happy, healthy children.