Suspect Your Kid is Gay or Non-Binary: What next?September 22, 2021
Youth are becoming more comfortable being openly gay and lesbian. It can take time for children to understand and process their sexual orientation and these gender stereotypes may irritate them. It may take them longer to openly tell their parents, especially their parents.
Sometimes parents have a gut feeling. What should you do if your child insists on wearing clothes or your daughter wants to cut her hair short?
Don’t Ask Your Kid If They’re Gay
Kristin Russo is a co-founder of the LGBTQ advocacy organizations Everyone Is Gay and My Kid Is Gay. Kristin Russo says that you might feel tempted to ask your child straight up. This urge should be resisted. “We all navigate our own relationships to sexuality and gender identity at a specific pace. She says that it is not always an easy relationship to observe from the outside.
Russo’s mother asked her many times as a child if she was gay. This confused her greatly. She was curious about what made her mother think she was queer. “I have spoken with many young people whose parents asked them and they were not ready to talk. She says they lied instinctively. They were then forced to tell their parents the truth, even though they had denied it.
For all parents, this may not be true. Andrew Zanevsky, Vice-President of PFLAG Council Northern Illinois, is an organization that unites parents with LGBTQ children. It was a surprise for him when his adult daughter came out as transgender to him several years ago. He would have spoken to his daughter if he knew. They have such close relationships. “If you are LGBTQ, I would say directly that I want you know that I love and support you regardless of what. You can always count upon it. He says that you don’t need to say anything but that he wants you to know it.
Russo acknowledges that exceptions do exist. Russo says that parents know when their child needs a little help. But, most of the time, you want your child to be able to share that information with you when they are ready.
Make it Clear You’re Pro-LGBTQ
No matter if you think your child might be part of the LGBTQ community, let them know that your household is open to all sexualities and genders. You will also love and accept any child who is gay or transgender. Because it is impossible to know if your child is queer.
This can be done in many different ways. One great way to do this is to create an inclusive library. Purchase books for children featuring LGBTQ characters. You can also stock your library with inclusive books. Russo states, “Ensure that all families are included in the books they read starting at the age of two.” There are also TV series and movies that feature queer and trans characters like Star vs. The Forces of Evil or Steven Universe.
You can also comment on news stories that impact the LGBTQ community. It doesn’t take much to comment on news stories that affect the LGBTQ community. A few casual comments will suffice, such as “How glad I am that the LGBT-affirming laws were passed.”
Every year, take your child to Pride events. They are usually held in June but may be held at other times depending on where they are located. You don’t have to be LGBTQ in order to invite your family members. Participating in Pride, whether it’s a parade in your area or smaller events throughout the month, shows that you support and celebrate the LGBTQ community. As allies, go as your child to show acceptance and respect to others.
Russo states that it can be hard for people to find their individual style and feel comfortable in their skin. You should encourage your child to be confident in their own expressions. No matter if your child is looking to cut their hair or wear only dresses, you should support them.
Children may not be able to express their opinions outside of the home. A child who is not gender-conforming may face serious danger depending on the environment in which they live. Russo suggests that you talk with your child about the potential dangers, but not discourage them from expressing themselves. Make sure they are aware of the dynamic at play. If they choose to blend in with the outside world, encourage them to feel at home wherever they are.
Educate Yourself About Gay Rights
You can do your research about the LGBTQ community and gay rights to be a good ally to your child, or someone in your family. You need to be able to understand the meaning of they/them pronouns and terms such as “cisgender”, “nonbinary” and what gender means. It is crucial to educate yourself so you can have an informed discussion with your child, if they come out. Many resources are available online for parents, including those from Gender Spectrum and The Trevor Project.
Don’t trust your child to provide information about the LGBTQ community if your child comes out. When you can find what your child is looking for on Google, this can be a burden. Russo recommends that parents of trans and queer children check out the local community groups. Local PFLAG chapters such as the one Zanevsky belongs to are a great option.
Parents often reject their children for being gay or trans. This can make it difficult to provide a safe and nurturing environment for your child. It really boils down to being supportive and loving parent and being open about it. It all boils down to being an ally. Your kid will let you know when they are ready if you do this.