How do I support my child's sexual orientation?

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario 

GLBTTQ youth can face many struggles as they gradually recognize and accept their sexual orientation. They are concerned about the reaction of the people closest to them, can feel very alone and be targets for bullying or harassment. If youth don't get the support they need, they have a higher risk for mental health problems, or alcohol and drug abuse.

Above all, accept and love your child or teen, who is the same child as before. Teens need to hear that being gay does not make you any less proud of them, nor does it make you love them any less.

  1. Acknowledge your teen's sexual orientation. Talk about it together. Your teen may feel rejected if you try to ignore the issue, or pretend it isn't happening. Ask questions about things you don't understand.
  2. Offer support. You might say "I love you no matter what. How can I be helpful? How can I be supportive? How about a hug?" Help your teen link with a support group for gay youth if your teen is interested and willing.
  3. Check in with your teen. Ask how he's feeling and coping with things. Ask about school-gay youth can sometimes be targets for bullies at school. Keep in mind he may keep this from you as he may not want to worry you.
  4. Keep a lid on anger. If you talk or ask questions about your teen's sexual orientation in an angry way, your teen will feel rejected by you. Recognize angry feelings and work through them by learning as much as you can, and remembering that being gay is not a choice. Your teen did not decide to be gay to rebel or make your life difficult.
  5. Appreciate that your teen told you. Getting news that you don't really want to hear might make you wish that your teen had kept things to himself. Don't get upset with your teen for sharing that she thinks she might be gay. And don't get upset for not telling you earlier. It was probably hard for your teen to tell you. If you get upset when he shares important things with you, why should he share anything with you at all?
  6. Get support from others. Talk with other parents of gay or lesbian youth. Some parents feel ashamed but remember, it's not a disgrace unless you make it one. Respect your teen's privacy by checking with them before you tell anyone else.
  7. Keep doing things that you would usually do. Rent a movie. Go shopping. Share a meal. Do an activity as a family. Your teen is still a teen. And while romantic attractions are important to all teens, they have other interests too! 

Information provided by The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario

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