Why Should I Read This?
Parents need to have honest conversations with their kids about all kinds of tough issues. Talking about sexual orientation is especially important. Here’s why:
Talking about sexual orientation can protect your child from prejudice. Your child may at some point be called "gay" or "fag" even if she or he isn’t gay. And your child will probably see kids teased or attacked for supposedly "being gay."
There are more than two million school-age lesbian and gay Americans. Many of these children are subjected to verbal or physical abuse by their peers and even by their teachers, according to a report by the highly respected organization Human Rights Watch. Visit the web site http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/uslgbt/ to read the powerful Human Rights Watch report.
Many heterosexual children also suffer the consequences of anti-gay prejudice. Talking with your kids from a young age about sexual orientation will help them to deal with fears, prejudices and misinformation they will inevitably be exposed to.
Talking about sexual orientation will help you to pass on the values of respect and understanding to your child. Like most kids, your children and teens probably have relatives or family friends who are gay and they see gay characters on TV. Your child will have questions about gay people and will look to you for answers. Your silence on these issues can be interpreted in ways you don’t intend, so it’s important to take these opportunities to share your values with your child.
You don’t have to fully understand or accept homosexuality to promote tolerance. Misinformation, ignorance and fear about homosexuality can sometimes lead to violence and bullying against children perceived as different - regardless of whether or not they are gay. By speaking with your son or daughter, you will be teaching important values like respect for the feelings of other people, regardless of differences.
Talking about sexual orientation will make it easier to discuss other tough issues with your child. Sexual orientation is one of the toughest issues for parents to discuss with their children. If you can talk to your kids about it, you’ll be better prepared to talk about other important yet difficult subjects.
This brochure suggests a few ways to turn awkward moments into opportunities for you to become closer to your child. Throughout this brochure are quotes from parents who discuss their experience talking to their children about gays and lesbians.
A nationwide survey of 1,000 parents in 2001 found the following:
61% said they would discuss homosexuality if their children asked questions.
56% of parents say that prejudice and discrimination against gays and lesbians is morally wrong.
67% of parents believe in teaching children that gay people are just like other people.
Survey of 1,000 parents, Lake Snell Perry and Associates, 2001
"In the suburbs where we live, the worst insult you can sling at another kid is to call him gay. "He’s so gay," kids say. Out of all the bad things you could say about someone he’s mean, selfish, ill-tempered, ignorant, greedy I can’t believe that calling someone gay is the ultimate cut."
mother of three,
"Your kids take clues from the things you do every day. But other things you want to bring up with them because they won’t bring them up. Especially because the media is a huge influence on the way my kids see things. It’s everywhere. I mean the TV and the advertising. And their friends, too. So when it comes to sexual orientation, I want them to know that my view is that people are people. Their sexual orientation is their business. It doesn’t have to be a big deal."
mother of three,
Last Updated 11/16/06