During the month of June, the world is illuminated with rainbows in celebration of Pride Month. It is a powerful movement that promotes the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of LGBTQ+ people as a social group. It is also an opportunity for people who do not identify as LGBTQ+ to think about how they can be strong allies. Having discussion around gender identity can be an intensely emotional and personal experience – especially for LGBTQ+ youth. Creating a safe space can help your child navigate this often tricky and confusing time in their lives. But how can you create a safe space?
Start having conversations early
The best way to let your child know that you’re accepting and supportive of who they are is having conversations about how some families look different. The conversations can evolve as your child grows, starting with conversations around how some people have two mommies and some have two daddies. This helps to avoid internalized preconceptions about what is ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ – phrases that can be quite damaging.
Answer their questions
When having conversations about gender and sexuality, your child might have a lot of questions. It is ok to not have all the answers, but the important thing is to let them ask questions without being dismissive.
The language used to talk about LGBTQ+ topics has changed greatly over the years and may very well continue to change. Keeping up to date with inclusive language and current topics will help you have meaningful conversations with your child and help you better answer their questions.
Let your child start the conversation about their identity
If you think your child might identify as LGBTQ+, avoid trying to coax them into coming out. Even the gentlest intentions can be damaging. Your child may still be figuring out their identity and not be ready to speak about it. Similarly, when your child does come out, avoid suggesting that you knew or assumed how they identified. Coming out is one leg of a unique journey, and suggesting you knew may diminish that journey.
Ask them what kind of support they need