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SEXUALITY & IDENTITY
Helping your child become who they are & accept others’ sexual identities

The facts

  • The battle for equality is not yet won: 45% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people have experienced bullying, and very few teachers get training in how to deal with this (according to Stonewall)

  • More than two-thirds of LGBT+ respondents to this Equalities Office survey said they had avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others

  • This targeting has serious consequences: more than half of LGBT+ 14- to 18-year-olds have self-harmed and most say the self-harm was related to their LGBT+ identity (Anti-Bullying Alliance)

Children don’t see difference as easily as adults, but they learn it quickly. So talk about friends, families & public figures who are different from you – without only referring to that difference. Discuss various families’ differences & similarities. Your key message here: it’s not a big deal

Be gender neutral when discussing romantic relationships. Don’t say that relationships are always between a woman and man – be inclusive and say “or a man & a man / a woman & a woman””

Teasing about girlfriends and boyfriends at a young age makes unhelpful assumptions

“I was always aware that I would never be able to live up to the ideals my family had set for me. Deep down… I had been planning my exit from the family for years”

Coming Out to Your Homophobic Family – Navin Noronha 

The culture your child accesses is their window onto the world. The more books, videos & plays you can bring into view, the better your chances of balancing out negative messages. We like: When Emma Became Emma, Worm Loves Worm, And Tango Makes Three, Made By Raffi and Julian Is A Mermaid

“We raise better human beings when we help them understand that the skin suits we wear and the identities we label ourselves with are mortal wrapping around the same universal need to be loved and have belonging”

Yep, Ally Kids Can Be LGBTQ Activists Too – Stacey Pulice (She Knows)

Ignore the impulse to ask your child if you think they are gay. Instead prepare yourself by reading these tips on how to react when your child comes out. Very recommended: This Is A Book For Parents Of Gay Kids. Watch some empowering It Gets Better videos. See the Genderbread person. Look at this Guardian LGBT books list

“The first thing to realise is that your child’s sexuality isn’t a big deal. Talking it over won’t bring about a big change in your relationship and supporting them isn’t complicated: they just need to know you’re there to help if they need it”

I Think My Teen Might Be Gay… (Relate)

If your child comes out as trans, why not start by asking how they’ve been feeling recently, who else it has been helpful to talk to and whether they have chosen a name. See this Parent Zone interview with the parent of a trans child for tips on staying positive and this Atlantic article to explore complexities & doubts

Educate yourself on queer culture. How do people self-describe? What issues might your child be facing? If they’re ready to talk, pay them the respectful compliment of asking for their opinions & advice. It’s a kind of reverse mentoring. Kids’ videos you can learn from: What Does Gay MeanDifferent Kinds Of Families and LGBT 101

Sexuality is central to who you are. I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last beings to make sense when you are open and honest
 

– celebrated actor Ian McKellen, who came out 30 years ago

Just Me: a trans or non-binary teaching tool and also a cracking video drama

More help with #Sexuality&Identity
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PSYCHOLOGY TODAY  |  When Your Child Is Gay 

This leading psychology outlet has a When Your Child Is Gay: What Parents Need to Know section by New York researchers Davidson and Tobkes  Go to Psychology Today >

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STONEWALL  |  Advice & guidance for parents 

This 30-year-old charity can be any individual’s first port of call for guidance on sexuality. This link will take you to an advice page for parents of children coming out  Go to Stonewall >

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POP’N’OLLY  |  LGBT+ “eduntainment” for parents & kids

Teaching younger children about equality and diversity, the Pop’N’Olly website features books and activities and its YouTube channel has educational videos. Try Kenny Lives, LGBT+ Marvel Superhero or Prince Henry – A Gay Fairytale  Go to Pop’N’Olly >

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FFLAG  |  Guide for family & friends 

A national UK charity supporting local groups as well as offering online content for family and friends  Go to FFLAG >

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MERMAIDS  |  Parent support for trans kids 

Support for parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children set up by parents themselves to empower families, reduce isolation and improve outcomes  Go to Mermaids UK >

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IT GETS BETTER  |  Inspiring videos

Watch some of the thousands of It Gets Better videos by older LGBT people to reassure younger LGBT people that things improve. Started by extraordinary advice columnist Dan Savage (of Savage Lovecast podcast fame) & his husband  Go to It Gets Better >

Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.

 

If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional

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