Sometimes parents or caregivers can be unsure about how to talk to kids about what it means to be LGBT+. Pride Month can be a good opportunity, but how to have the conversation? These 5 tips will help you have a healthy, informative, supportive conversation with your child.
Be prepared for questions!
First, it’s important to note that children may bring up the topic themselves, which is why you should be prepped.
Have the conversation about LGBT+ identity with your child, whether or not they identify as LGBT+
This is important both so that if your child does eventually come out, they know you support them. And because even if they don’t identify as LGBT+, having a conversation with you can reduce prejudice and harmful bias. Learn some terms and concepts important to LGBT+ people, but don’t feel like you have to know everything, and feel free to tell your child when you don’t know something.
Be prepared to listen and talk without judging
An “openhearted” approach shows kids who may be considering coming out that you’re ready to accept them. It also diffuses negative opinions heterosexual and cisgender kids may have about LGBT+ people. Modeling openness and good behavior are important to demonstrate to your kids that discrimination and violence towards LGBT+ people is not acceptable. Even if your religious or personal views make you uncomfortable with issues of LGBT+ identity, it’s vital that you tell your child that you’ll love them no matter what.
Talk about “Universal Values”
Pride Month is about being able to fully live as you are, which is a message that can be helpful for all kinds of kids, not just LGBT+ kids. Similarly, the value of “love is love” is important for all kids to hear.
Focus on simple things
If you’re uncomfortable talking about sexuality or genitalia with your kids, you can use metaphors like “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. This helps you talk to your kids about how you can’t assume someone’s gender identity by looking at them, because people may feel differently from how they present.
Identify and reject discrimination
When talking to your kids about gender and sexuality, don’t ignore the political realities of life for LGBT+ people in America. This includes the Trump administration’s discrimination against transgender people in healthcare and employment. For younger kids, you can frame this as a fairness issue–”people should be treated equally.” For older kids, you can talk about civil rights and how attitudes and policy towards LGBT+ people have changed over time. Stress that no matter one’s private views, everyone should be treated with respect.
Bringing the key tips for LGBT+ parenting together
As a parent, you have the opportunity to show your kids that everyone is worthy of love and connection, no matter their identity. Talking to kids about gender and sexuality can seem tricky. But it’s vital to have these conversations in order to model openness, reduce negative perceptions, and show every kid that they should be loved.
Questions about LGBT+ parenting to discuss on Ohlelo:
- Have you talked to your children about LGBT+ identity? How did the conversation go?
- What obstacles do you experience in talking to your kids about LGBT+ identity?
- Do you agree with the advice offered in this article? Any suggestions?
- Why do you think it is important to talk to your kids about gender and sexuality?
- What strategies do you use in approaching difficult or awkward conversations with your child(ren)?
Check out this excellent Mashable article for more information! We also recommend you see our guide to how to get yourself ready to parent LGBT+ children and our Gender and Sexuality home page, for everything related to this topic.