Tips for Parents
Engage with your child. Your LGBT child requires and deserves the same level of care, respect, information, and support as non-LGBT children. Ask questions, listen, empathize, share and just be there for your child.
Get the facts about sexual
orientation and gender identity. Learn new
language and the correct terminology to
communicate effectively about sexual
orientation and gender identity. Challenge
yourself to learn and to go beyond
stereotyped images of LGBT people.
Get to know the community. What resources are available? Find out if there is a Gay/Straight Alliance at school, a community group for LGBT and questioning teens, a bookstore with a selection of books and magazines on LGBT issues, or a LGBT community center nearby.
Explore the Internet. There is a growing amount of excellent information on the World Wide Web that connects people with support and materials on these important topics.
Find out where your local PFLAG group meets. Many parents say that their connections with other parents of LGBT kids made a world of difference in their progress toward understanding their young people. Finding another person you can trust to share your experience with is invaluable. Many people have gone through similar things and their support, lessons learned, and empathy can be very valuable.
Don't make it ALL there is. Just because your child has come out as LGBT does not mean the young person's whole world revolves around sex or sexual orientation or gender identity. It will be a big part of who the youth is, especially during the process of figuring it all out, including what it means to be LGBT. Still, being LGBT isn't the sum of life for your child, and it is vital to encourage your child in other aspects of life, such as school, sports, hobbies, friends, and part-time jobs.
Ask your child before you "come out" to others on the child's behalf. Friends and family members might have questions or want to know what's up; but it is most important to be respectful of what your child wants. Don't betray your child's trust!
Praise your LGBT child for coming to you to discuss this issue. Encourage the youth to continue to keep you "in the know." If your child turns to you to share personal information, you're must be doing something right! You are askable. You're sending out consistent verbal and non-verbal cues that say, "Yes, I'll listen. Please talk to me!" Give yourself some credit—your LGBT child chose to come out to you. Congratulations!
Find out what kind of support services are in place at your child's school. Does the school or school district have a non-discrimination policy? Is a there an LGBT/straight support group? Do you know any "out" people, or their friends and loved ones, to whom you can turn for information?
Educate yourself on local, state and national laws and polices regarding LGBT people. On the national level, LGBT people are still second-class citizens in regard to some national policies and their rights are not guaranteed by law. Consider educating yourself about this and finding out what you can do to work toward extending equal rights to LGBT people in the United States.
Reaction to DOMA Ruling
John Archibald / Birmingham News
I was maybe 11 years old when my mom sat me down to talk about my brother, Murray. It was the 70s, in the parsonage of First United Methodist Church of Decatur, where my dad served as senior pastor. "Do you know what a homosexual is?" my mom asked. My first reaction, of course, was Dear God, No! I didn't want this conversation, I didn't need this conversation, I wanted to be anywhere but there, talking homosexual with my mom. But I nodded, and my mother went on. "Murray has told your father and me that he is, homo...er, well,... gay," she said. "I'm not sure what it all means, but he is still your brother – our son – and nothing has changed. We love him." And that was it. Forever.
Pictured here is John Archibald's Father (right) and his bother Murray (left).
So forgive me today if I do not quote
legal experts on what will happen now that the U.S. Supreme Court
has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Forgive me if I do not
consider the implications in Alabama or beyond, if I don't ponder
the future of wedded bliss in America, or in Alabama, where
enchantment for marriage is matched only by addiction to divorce.
Because I can't see the issue without seeing ... family. It became clearer last week as we
buried my father. The funeral was right back there at First United
Methodist in Decatur. And Steve Elkins, my brother's
monogamous partner since I was 15 years old, sang "Shepherd Me O
God" at the funeral. And it was beautiful. And Murray spoke from
that pulpit where dad so often preached. And it was beautiful, too.
He told of dad's discipline and his ethics, his love for his God and
his family. And then, right there in a Southern church in the utter
silence, he described bringing Steve home to meet the family 35
Dad and mom welcomed him the same way they would later welcome my
own wife and the spouses of my other siblings. And it kept a
family alive. It kept a family together. It even restored my own
"During a period in my life when I felt that the church had turned
its back on me, I never felt that from my dad," Murray said from
that pulpit. "And the strong faith and deep relationship I have with
God today is built on his example." Dad – good old, old school dad – would
never think of himself as a bold fighter for social justice. He did
not speak often of Murray being gay, except that once when he
gathered the strength to stand before thousands of Methodist
preachers debating the acceptance of gays. He argued for equality by
stating his undying belief that Jesus is love. And love is
unconditional. It was a losing argument, as it turned out. But it
was enough for us. So forgive me today if I don't see a
threat to the sacrament of marriage. Forgive me if I cannot see the
looming danger of allowing gay people in committed relationships the
same privileges awarded the rest of us.
Because I see only my brother and the man I've considered a
brother-in-law for 70 percent of my life. I see the best uncles my
children could know. I see Murray and Steve, and when I do, I see a
lot more than gay men. I see a family.
(From John Archibald / His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Birmingham News, and on AL.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note To My Kid
A new and inspiring website called "A Note To My Kid" allows parents to share letters of support for their LGBT sons or daughters. It is a very heartfelt and encouraging on-line service for the LGBT community and youth. Communication between parents and their LGBT children is critical. The goal is for "A Note To My Kid" to serve as a platform for communicating love, acceptance and support during a time of great need. It is also hoped that it will provide parents who are not sure how to broach the subject of sexuality with an opportunity to learn from example. "A Note To My Kid" provides parents of LGBT and questioning youth, or a any parent for that matter, with a medium for expanding communication and expressing unconditional love.
Note To My Kid