National Coming Out Day: 7 Things Your LGBTQ Kids Want You to Know About Coming Out by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist
As parents we don't always have all the answers or say the right things. And as you can imagine, most LGBTQ kids are nervous about coming out, right? After all, this is BIG NEWS!
Here are some important tips on what your kids want you to know about coming out:
- This isn’t about you. Many times when parents hear their child is questioning their sexuality/gender identity, etc., they immediately say something like, “Are you trying to get back at me for doing X?” Your child’s sexuality has nothing to do with you or your parenting style.
- It’s very scary. All LGBTQ kids have been raised in a society which still hasn't decided if it's going to fully accept alternative lifestyles and those who fit into it. Even kids whose parents are totally cool with it are still fearful of what the rest of the world will say/do to them after they come out.
- Please don’t ask if it’s a phase. By the time most kids are brave enough to come out to their parent’s they’ve had plenty of time to question whether their desires are a “phase” or not. When parents suggest this may be a “phase” it devalues the “coming out.” Yes, sometimes kids who identify on the spectrum at a young age end up marrying someone of the opposite sex. This may happen for many reasons, none of which has anything to do with “phases.”
- Go gently with the personal questions. Sexuality for anyone who isn’t “straight” can be very confusing when it comes to the “ins and outs” of how things are done. Sex education is lagging with regards to educating youth about non-cis sex. So, if your child comes out to you don’t immediately go for the “are you a top or a bottom” type questions, as they may not even know themselves.
- Don’t ask, “Are you the boy or the girl in the relationship?” LGBTQ relationships do not have preconceived roles/duties. As such, it’s freeing to be able to be 100 percent yourself with a partner and work together to identify who does what within the relationship. Just because someone wears pants in a lesbian couple doesn’t automatically mean she's the “man.” That type of thinking is rigid and damaging to relationships because it is still suggesting that hetero relationship are the gold standard for couples.
- We don’t want to lose your love but we can’t deny who we are. It’s a bittersweet decision many youth are forced to make; live a life that's true to them or live a life that makes their family happy but they are miserable. By the time many children have found the courage to tell their parent’s they are LGBTQ, they are also mentally prepared for the worst which is be disowned, kicked out, sent to a conversion camp, etc.
- This isn’t a choice. Time and again science has shown homosexuality exists not only in humans, but other species as well. Insinuating your child has a choice about how their heart and body responds in the ways of love is like suggesting your child chose to have red hair or brown eyes. Sure they could dye their hair and get colored contacts, but it doesn't change their genetic makeup.
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