Are you unsure how to react if your teenager came out to you as gay? Here are some tips on how to provide the best support for your LGBTQ+ teen.
Supporting Your Gay Teen
It can be challenging for many parents to fully accept the news that their child is gay, even if they support LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage. They may feel guilty, thinking they somehow caused their child’s sexuality, or grieve their child’s potential loss of grandchildren or a perceived “normal” future. Giving yourself time to process these emotions and educate yourself on the subject is essential.
Remember, your child is still the same person they were before they came out, and they need your love and support now more than ever. Don’t let unfounded fears get in the way of being there for your child.
1. Acceptance of a child’s sexuality can be difficult
Despite being open-minded toward LGBTQ+ individuals and their rights, some parents might find it hard to accept that their child is gay. This difficulty can arise from many factors, such as their upbringing or societal norms, and can make it challenging to be supportive of their child.
2. Parents may experience guilt
Some parents might feel guilty, believing that they did something that “caused” their child to be gay. This feeling of guilt is not based on facts and can add to the stress and anxiety that they are already experiencing.
3. Parents may grieve the potential loss
Parents might worry that their child being gay means that they will not have grandchildren or a “normal” future, leading them to grieve the loss of the life they had envisioned for their child. However, this is not necessarily true, and there are many ways for LGBTQ+ individuals to have families and fulfilling lives.
4. Education and understanding are crucial
To provide the best support to their LGBTQ+ child, parents should educate themselves about the realities of being gay, including the challenges and misconceptions. By doing so, parents can better understand their child’s perspective and be more empathetic.
5. Love and support are essential
Above all, parents need to remember that their child is still the same person they were before they came out. They need love, support, and acceptance from their family, which can greatly affect how they experience their journey.
Parents must prioritize their child’s well-being and show them that the are loved unconditionally, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This means actively listening to their child, respecting their choices, and advocating for their rights. It also means being open-minded and educating themselves about the LGBTQ+ community to understand their child’s experiences and challenges better.
Risks Facing Gay Teens
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), homosexuality is not a mental disorder, and its underlying causes are not yet fully comprehended. Additionally, an individual’s sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, and any efforts to alter it could prove detrimental.
Nonetheless, the AACAP outlines several issues that may be concerning for homosexual adolescents, such as:
- Experiencing a sense of separateness from their peers.
- Experiencing a sense of guilt regarding their sexual orientation.
- Feeling anxious about how their loved ones will react to their sexual orientation.
- Being subjected to teasing and mockery by their peers.
- Fearing sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and AIDS.
- Being concerned about potential discrimination when attempting to join clubs, or sports teams, pursue higher education, or secure employment. Being subjected to rejection and harassment by others.
Teens who identify as gay and are grappling with these challenges may begin to distance themselves from social activities and acquaintances, experience difficulty concentrating, and develop a diminished sense of self-worth. In severe cases, they may succumb to depression and contemplate or even attempt suicide.
Therefore, parents and other concerned individuals must remain vigilant for indications of distress and take prompt action. Recent research has indicated that a significant number of suicides among teenagers are attributed to those who identify as gay.