One Equal World

A Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen Coming Out

Posted on: May 12, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

So your teenager has built up the immense courage needed to tell you that they’re gay, they’re bisexual, they’re ace. Maybe you already knew. Maybe it was a shock. Maybe you found out in a way they’d rather you didn’t, or maybe they had it all planned out. But now you know.

What now?

Coming out is hard work inside a family. No matter how supportive you are, it’s emotional labor for everyone involved. But having a few concrete things to keep in mind can help.

  1. Your teen is not done coming out. Now you know, but they will have to go through those tensions again, over and over. Every new class they’re in, every new roommate they meet, every new job they get, they will have to decide if they want to come out again. One day, sexualities will all be socially neutral and there won’t be this process, but we’re not there yet. Every decision to come out is a decision of risk management. Be there for them, every time. (And a corollary: Never out them without asking first. Not to anyone.)
  2. The discussions about sexuality and sexual activity are not the same discussion. Your teen telling you that they are bisexual is not your teen telling you that they’ve been having sex with their classmates. It’s understandable that you want to make sure they’re being safe, but make certain you are not making assumptions.
  3. Let’s talk about safety. If you want your teenager to be safe, one of the most valuable things you can do is make certain they can and want to come to you with their concerns and fears. Remember that things like violating their privacy will make them feel less safe because they will know not to trust you with their secrets.
  4. Your teenager lives very much in today. They’re up on the jargon of sexuality in ways that may be very unfamiliar to you. Take the time to educate yourself. Google terms your child uses to describe themselves. PFLAG is a fantastic resource, with everything from online advice forums to local chapters in cities across the country for both education and support for parents, like you, who want to do their best for their LGBT kid.Do you have any other tips for parents? Please share below in the comments!

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