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Information for Parents of Gay Children

by Kathy Gleason

Whether you've suspected the truth or it comes as a shock, learning that your child is gay will summon up a variety of emotions. Handling this news with grace and being supportive of your child are critical to helping your child through this time and keeping your relationship with your child strong.

Importance of Coming Out

It's a positive sign that your child is comfortable coming to you and that she is willing to accept her sexual orientation and admit it to you. Hiding something like that about yourself is difficult because most people want to let people who love them see all their sides. Talking about her sexuality also opens the door for you to suggest talking to someone in a professional capacity if she's upset or confused, or a support group to speak to other kids in the same position.

Parents Have Nothing to Do With a Child's Sexuality

According to PFLAG, some parents of gay children might feel in some way responsible or wonder what they "did" to make their child gay. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, evidence suggests that sexuality is determined from an extremely young age, or even birth. Parents don't make their children straight or gay.

Telling Other People

Always let your child be the one to decide who gets told about his sexual orientation. This is about him, not you. Even though the news affects you as well. don't tell neighbors or aunts and uncles unless your child gives the OK. Encourage your child to tell people in his own time and his own way.

Where to Find Information

In addition to PFLAG, which has a strong online presence as well as many local chapters across the country, many other organizations are devoted to helping homosexuals and their families and loved ones. BeLonG To has information for parents of gay children, as does Activates for Youth. You can also check out your bookstore or library for books about coping with the news of a gay family member and to read stories from other parents who have been where you are.

Take Some Time

It might take time for you to come to terms with your child's sexual orientation. You might worry that your gay child will be ostracized; you'll need to take time to accept that your child's future will be a bit different than what you had envisioned. It's OK to take whatever time you need to get used to this new picture of your child. However, in the meantime, remember to spend time with your child and show your love and support. You don't want your child to think that your feelings toward her have changed in a negative way.

Educate Yourself

Spend some time learning about what gay or lesbian really means, that it's about couples who are of the same sex instead of opposite sex, or that bisexual means a person who is attracted to both males and females. It's also important to learn correct terminology and what words are offensive. For example, gay, lesbian, bisexual and gay are all better word choices than slang terms. Parents of gay children should study up on the challenges your child might face and how you as a parent can help him cope. It's also a good idea for you to join a support group for parents of gay children, either in your community or online. Contact your community center or hospital to find out about any support groups for parents of gay children in your area, or do a search online for a listing of support groups in your town or city.

Finding Resources For Your Child

If your child is OK with it, contact his school to find out what its policies are in regards to teaching tolerance for others and what is taught about homosexuality in school. Advocates for Youth recommends finding support groups or counselors if your child needs to talk to someone who understands his circumstances.

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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