How would you react if your teenager approached you one day with the news they are gay? Even the most understanding and liberal-minded parents may be caught off-guard, and not know what to think, say or do next. Most parents will hold fears for their child, and perhaps even themselves, concerned about what others might think, or the difficult road ahead.
PFLAG Australia has put together the following guide for parents who’ve recently heard the words “I’m gay” from their child.
Things you may feel or think when your teenager comes out to you:
- My child will be bullied at school/in the workplace.
- He/she will be discriminated against in applying for jobs etc.
- He/she will be bashed.
- My child will contract sexually transmitted diseases, eg HIV/AIDS.
- What will the family, friends and neighbours think?
- No marriage, no grandchildren!
- What will the minister/priest/rabbi/mufti think?
- Maybe this is a phase.
- Is there a cure?
Things your teenager may be feeling or thinking:
- Should I tell my parents?
- Will they be disappointed in me?
- Will they accept me?
- Will they throw me out of home?
- Will they try to change me?
- Will they hate me?
- I don’t want to be this way! – thinking suicidal thoughts.
Things you can say to your teen:
- You are still my child.
- I love you unconditionally, even though I don’t really understand.
- I will support you, no matter what.
- It will be OK.
- I need time.
- We can work through this.
- Give your child a hug.
What you can do next:
- Contact support groups: PFLAG for parents and family; Twenty10 and ACON for your teenager.
- Get some literature from these support groups or recommended library books and educate yourself to help your teenager.
- Talk to your teenager about who they wish to tell, how and when.
Related article: ‘When my daughter came out’ – Ann’s story
Support Line: 1800 65 2010
Freecall: 1800 063 060