How Do I Help Keep my LGBT Son or Daughter Safe and Secure?
LGBT and questioning kids face many challenges socially, and some of them may be dangerous. The challenges they face can make it difficult for them to feel secure as they make their way in the world. Bisexual kids may need special affirmation because many people in the straight, lesbian, and gay communities wrongly believe that bisexuals are really gay but won’t admit it. While it may take a while for people to fully understand their sexual orientation, it is very important to remember that bisexuality is a real sexual orientation.
The best way to help LGBT and questioning kids be safe and secure as they find their way in the world is to understand and support the world they live in. Here are a few suggestions to help them do that:
- Ask how we might help them.
- Never “out” them without their permission. Let kids decide when, where, and to whom they want to come out.
- We can ask them if they want us to help them come out by telling other family or friends, but we should never do it without their permission.
- Offer advice and help them think through their coming out decisions so that they can avoid taking unnecessary risks.
- Make sure they know how to practice safer sex and how to use birth control if they ever have sex with people of the opposite sex.
- Learn about the world they live in and support our kids’ involvement with the LGBT community online and in real life.
We can listen to their stories. Spend time with them. Ask questions such as “Are you in touch with anyone else in the LGBT community?” “Are you getting support from them?” “Is anyone harassing you?”
We can learn about the LGBT community from our LGBT or questioning children, from other parents, from LGBT friends and neighbors, and from online, print, video, and film materials from reliable sources, such as Planned Parenthood, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Advocates for Youth, and the Human Rights Campaign. We can help our kids get to LGBT community centers or Gay-Straight alliances. Just as we can help them find helpful websites, we can help them avoid those that might not be.
- Defend them against discrimination. We can advocate for our children with family members, teachers, school officials, health care providers, religious leaders, and social services professionals who are responsible for creating safe environments for LGBT and questioning kids. We can vote for political leaders who are accepting of LGBT and questioning people and who will protect their rights.
- Support our kids’ right to have loving relationships. It’s a good idea to get to know our children’s partners and friends.
- Help them believe that life will be good to them in the future.
- Support our children’s life goals, even if they are different from our own.
- Let our children find their way without pressure from us.
- Take pride in our kids’ ability to have a loving relationship.
- Do not let family members or anyone else try to pressure them to change or go into “reparative therapy.” Such efforts do not work and can be emotionally dangerous.
- Keep saying, “I love you.”
We can also help our teens by setting boundaries for them.