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When Your Child Comes Out: Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay or Trans

What Do You Do?

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What do you do when your child comes out to you as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

How can you be supportive of your GLBT son or daughter?
Whether your child has come out to you, of if you found out unintentionally that your son or daughter is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, your child needs you now. Every child's worst fear is that by coming out their parents will reject them. No matter what your beliefs, fears or prejudices, you need to let your child know that you love him.

Your child is the same person she was before coming out of the closet. Remember, someone's sexual orientation is just one part of who they are. Your child who loved pro wrestling and The Beatles is still the same kid you've loved since birth. Nothing about her has changed. You just have more knowledge about her life. Take this opportunity to connect as you did before you knew she was gay. Was there a meal you liked to cook together, a favorite TV show you watched? Make sure you continue to do the things you did as a family.

Show an Interest in Your Gay Child's life

Talk to your son or daughter. If you feel comfortable asking questions about her sexual orientation, do so. But you don't need to focus on sexual orientation. Talk to her about school, her job, other activities and interests. Studies show that children whose parents take an interest in their lives are less likely to engage in risky behavior.

What You May Be Going Through

You may blame yourself for your child’s homosexuality. Don’t. It’s not your fault. Most scientists and psychologists agree, people are born gay or lesbian. It is not something that you could have influenced.

You may feel depressed and isolated, like you have no one you can talk to. Find yourself a supportive counselor if you need it. Log onto the Lesbian Life Forum and talk to lesbians who may have some advice for you about what your child may be going through and how to be supportive.

Things will be different now then perhaps you hoped for you child. Most parents believe their children will grow up to be heterosexual, get married and have children. Letting go of that dream for your child can be hard. Remember though, that was your dream. Your child may still choose to spend their life with one partner and have children. Gay marriage may even become legal in his lifetime. Even though your child did not choose to be gay, they may make some life choices you do not agree with. Although this may be hard for you, remember, it's their life and they have the right to live it as their own.

What Your Gay Child is Going Through

When people come out, they often question their place in society. They wonder how they will fit in with the family. Will they still have a family? Get married, have children? How will their church or faith community accept them? Will their friends accept or reject them?

You have a choice. You can help your child feel accepted and loved, or you can add to their feelings of isolation. Make sure your child knows they still have a place in the family, no matter what the outside world tells them.

You can help your child connect with a supportive community. Many cities have support groups for gay and lesbian youth. First check the group out. Offer to drive your child to a meeting. Your local PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter can offer support to both your and your child.

Support your child if someone makes a disparaging remark against gays. If she is a victim of harassment or homophobia, stand by her side.

Who Can I Tell?

Who to come out to is ultimately your child's choice. Who you tell can have a consequence on his life. On the other hand, you might need to talk to someone and don't want to keep such important information to yourself. It's important that you be able to get the support that you need. Check in with your son or daughter before you tell anyone about their sexual orientation. Let her know you need to be able to talk to people to get support for yourself.

If Your Religion Says Homosexuality is a Sin

Some religions call homosexuality a sin. Others are more open and accepting of gays and lesbians. The debate is still out on this topic and probably will be for a long time. If your child was raised in the same religion as you she is probably having lots of conflicting feelings. Take a look at the work of some Biblical scholars who have a different interpretation of the Bible. What the Bible Really has to Say About Homosexuality is a great place to start.

Want more information?

Always My Child by Kevin Jennings is a great resource for parent of GLBT youth.
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