My Child is Gay...What Do I Do Now?

Understanding Your Gay Teen

Common Fears and How to be Supportive

Rules for Helping Gay Kids Be Themselves

Gay Family Support


Parents of LGBTQ Children


Parenting gay children can be challenging, rewarding and ultimately life changing. The level of acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity by fathers and mothers can detract from or expand a child's healthy growth and development in countless ways. Too many of our LGBTQ youth face emotional isolation, rejection, and complete withdrawal from parents that lead many to depression, drugs and alcohol and even homelessness.

Hearing the words "Mom, Dad, I think I am gay" can be life changing for many parents. Within an instant of hearing these words, their preconceived image, dreams and future expectations of their child are dramatically reshaped. Parents can choose to be supportive (this is still the same child they have always loved) and they can grow with their children as they venture into lives with LGBTQ relationships.


All too often, young people look to parents to be their ultimate support, but, unfortunately, parents cannot overcome the hurdles of prejudice. Ultimately, many mothers and fathers distance, alienate and disown their children because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Some young people would choose isolation or death rather than disclose to their parents, while others feel they are the only people they can turn to. The level of trust is immense as a child who has inwardly struggled with sexual orientation or gender identity decides to confide in his or her parents.

Clearly, parental responses to a child's gay disclosure can range along a continuum from complete rejection to extreme activism. Points on this continuum vary, grow and evolve as the nature of the relationship and deeper understandings emerge. Parental alienation can reinforce self-hatred, isolation and suicidal ideation.  Indeed, parental rejection can be life threatening.

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Tips for Parents

Engage with your child. Your LGBTQ child requires and deserves the same level of care, respect, information, and support as non-LGBTQ children. Ask questions, listen, empathize, share and just be there for your child.

Get informed. 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ and questioning teens, a bookstore with a selection of books and magazines on LGBTQ issues, or a LGBTQ community center nearby.

Explore the Internet. There is a growing amount of excellent information on-line that connects people with support and materials on these important topics.

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Sally Field Receives HRC Ally Award and Talks About Gay Son

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Coming Out: Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen
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Find out where your local PFLAG group meets. Many parents say that their connections with other parents of LGBTQ 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 about sex. Just because your child has come out as LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ. Still, being LGBTQ 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.


Honor your child's privacy.  Do not "out" him or her to others without his or her permission. 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 LGBTQ child for coming to you to discuss this issue. Encourage him or her to continue to confide in you and keep you "in the know." If your child turns to you to share personal information, you're must be doing something right.  Your child regards you as accessible and approachable. 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ people. On the national level, LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ people in the United States.






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