Next steps: what to do if you think your child might be lesbian, gay or bisexual

It is important to remember that the exploration of sexuality is something that is a completely normal and natural part of growing up. With that being said, we do not underestimate how hard it can be for young people to come out to family and friends. It can also be new and unexplored territory for many family members – parents especially may be unsure of how to best support their lesbian, gay or bisexual child. With this in mind we have compiled a short list of things you can do if you are unsure of how to navigate the journey ahead.

Keep an open dialogue.
Firstly, we advise that parents build open and honest relationships with their children so that they know they can talk to you about any issues that might be on their mind, including their sexuality. Creating a home environment that is inclusive and allows for freedom of expression will enable your child to come out to you without fearing repercussions.

Simple actions you can take to ensure this, is by not being presumptive regarding their sexuality; instead of asking if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend, ask if they are seeing anyone. When discussing sexuality in front of your child, refrain from attaching negative connotations to any orientation. If you have any fears or concerns surrounding your child’s sexuality, remember that your child can experience the same love and fulfilment as those who engage in heteronormative relationships.

Love and accept them for who they are. 
This might seem obvious but it is extremely important in maintaining and boosting your child’s self-esteem and confidence. Do not try and change your child in any way, or encourage them to be anything other than they are. Love them for all that they are and accept their life choices. Remind them every single day that you love them and you are there for them – even if you feel like they aren’t listening, or you are embarrassing them – they will hear it and they will be comforted by it.

Normalise it.
If your child decides to speak to you about their sexuality, or sexual orientation generally, you can use this as an opportunity to make sure they know that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is perfectly normal and natural. If they know you are of this mindset, they will feel at ease confiding in you. They are also more likely to embrace themselves and their life choices, if they have not been made to feel that being LGB is unusual or weird in any way. Don’t treat them any differently either; just because they are L/G/B does not mean they need ‘special’ treatment – remember that their sexuality does not define them. It is an incredibly small part of who they are as a person.

Make them aware of the support on offer. 
As well as the support they will receive from you, make sure they are aware that they can also access support externally from organisations such as Ditch the Label. We have a wide range of guides and support materials available on our blog, a community platform where they can speak directly to a digital mentor as well as being able to discuss any issues with other young adults going through similar experiences. You might also want to think about educating yourself on all matters LGB – that way you will be able to provide advice if they need it.