Monday, October 8, 2018

Not Coming Out on LGBTQ Awareness Day



October 11 is the 30th annual LGBTQ Awareness Day. The purpose of the day is to make LGBTQ orientation more familiar to the public, reduce bullying, and help foster allies in the fight for equality.

Although it would be ideal if everyone felt he could come out, the LGBT child has his own timeline.  Tempting as it may be, it’s not a good idea for a parent to push a child into coming out.  The child should come out when he is ready and when he does, parents should ask for permission to tell others.  Your child may only be out to a few people he trusts and does not want everyone to know.  It’s his story. 

If a child does come out to you on October 11 or any other date, make it his experience, recommends Dr. Logan Stohle, PsyD. Of Yellowbrick, a psychiatric center for young adults in Evanston, Illinois.  Don’t bring up your concerns at that time. Even if you don’t agree or understand your child’s sexual orientation, now is not the time to question.  Just listen. 

Says Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (2016, Sterling), you might employ these subtle ways to make your LBTQ child feel as supported as his heterosexual brother/sister by:

Asking your child the same questions you ask your other children.  Specifically, don’t avoid the topic of dating and relationships.  Be sure to invite the significant other to family dinners or functions in the same way you would for a partner of a straight child.  From time to time, make a point of asking your child how his significant others are doing, what are new with them, and so forth.

Accept whatever your child tells you about his sexuality as hard fact and do not try and convince him that he must be either straight or gay. 

The most important thing is to make it clear to your child that sexual orientation is only one part of who he is and that it has no bearing on your love for or acceptance of him.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

How To Make Your Child Comfortable So He Will Come Out To You



It always helps if you have discussed what the gender spectrum means beforehand in your home. It will not only show that you are a hip parent who is cognizant of what is going in the non cis-gender culture, but that you can be trusted to be open-minded. When having these discussions, don’t assume that your child will marry a heterosexual or that he has a crush on a girl! Use gender-neutral language when discussing relationships.

If you leave the conversation open-ended, perhaps your child will feel secure talking about his concerns about being LGBT: for example what he may be experiencing in school.  If a parent says that the door is always open, that child will know that he can come to you for support and not be judged.  You will lessen his burden.  Your home will be a safe haven in which your LGBT child can “let down his hair.”

As a parent, you will only alienate your LGBT child if you say the following:

“You can’t be! It’s just a phase!”
Don’t make the conversation about yourself:  “How can you do this to me and your father?”
“I can’t wait to tell your Aunt Ellen!”  Ask for permission to tell anyone, including friends and family.  Find out whom your child has already told. Protect your family’s privacy!
Don’t tell your child that you’re worried about his safety!  You’ve read and seen on television how the LGBT population gets beaten up!
Get your lines right!  Think before you speak!  It’s o.k. to say that you need to think over everything that was stated and that it may take you awhile to digest this important revelation.

If you haven’t gotten your lines right, then apologize and say, for example, that you  were surprised so you didn’t react well.  You want your child to feel respected and heard. You could ask him how you can support him.  Of course, always tell him that you love him! Lastly, thank him for entrusting you with such important information.






Friday, September 7, 2018

Don't Forget the Feelings of Your LGBT's Siblings!


Your LGBT child many not be the only one in the family who is getting bullied at school.  If your LGBT son or daughter is out at school and bullied as a result, chances are their sibling is being harassed as well. As a parent, you want to find out what the sibling endures at school.  Give him/her a voice, to share his or her experiences.

When a child comes out, it changes the family dynamic.  If YOU are not accepting of your LGBT's child's sexual orientation, your heterosexual child may feel uncomfortable living in a house that is always in conflict.  Pressure builds.  Anger, fear, criticism run rampant.

The following can happen to the heterosexual sibling:


  • If the heterosexual child is ignored and the LGBT child receives all the attention, the heterosexual child may act out and spread the news (without permission) to her community, school, church and friends.  
  • If the sibling is used as a pawn between the parent and his LGBT brother/sister, the heterosexual child may be consumed with guilt, particularly if he is told not to tell his parents and keep the secret.
  • The secret can create a lot of needless pressure.  A child shouldn't be put in the position of an adult arbitrator. Just like a parent, a sibling may need some time to reflect, to process the situation before he/she accepts the sibling's sexual orientation. 
Some feelings of the "straight" Sibling:

  • Will I be LGBT too?
  • Do I have to be concerned  to look "feminine" or "masculine" to compensate for the sibling's same-sex attraction, to be the "normal" one? 
  • Fear of attending school where I face bias due to association with LGBT sibling.
  • Feels pressure to defend LGBT sibling after hearing derogatory remarks at home and in school.
As a parent, here's what you can do to bring the house back to equilibrium:
  • It is important that the sibling know that the LGBT child is still the same person, just with a different sexual orientation.
  • When you speak to your child about the sibling's coming out, make the information age-appropriate, at their maturity level, and take into account the sibling's relationship with his brother and sister.
  • Remember that all feelings are valid, but how we respond to feelings, has real impact.
  • Practice treating your LGBT child as an equal to your heterosexual child.  Don't play favorites.
How to Create a Safer Space for Family Members to acknowledge all of the feelings that may Come up:

  • Watch for signs of harassment, bullying and discrimination.
  • Require that family members respect your LGBT child's identity.
  • Support your LGBT child's identity, even if you're still working to understand or be comfortable with it.
  • Seek out LGBT-specific community resources such as PFLAG and supports for yourself such as therapy. Seek out LGBT-specific community.
For your Straight Sibling:

  • Acknowledge and accept if your sibling is struggling.  Offer support.
  • Encourage sibling to attend family/group therapy if needed.
  • Help sibling come up with strategies for addressing homophobic/transphobic remarks.
  • Require they respect your LGBT child's privacy as any other family member.
- Suggestions from Caitlin Ryan, Family Acceptance Project.  Also from Power Point Presentation "When A Loved One Comes Out," Mental Health of America Conference, 6-15-17, by Wesley Davidson, co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know ( Sterling, 2016) and Nicole Avallone, LCSW.



Sunday, August 19, 2018

When The School Isn’t An Ally




How To Enforce Anti-Bullying Policies At Your Child’s School

Last week, I wrote about how parents can anticipate bullying of their LGBT child at school and practice tactics at home.  However, as most kids are bullied at school when parents aren’t there to observe the violations or around-the-clock when their LGBT children are cyberbullied, it’s best to know your rights and make the school an ally to solve the problem.
Every child deserves a safe environment in which to learn.

Here are some suggestions:

Include your child in the problem-solving.  He should not be blamed.  He’ll be more apt to adhere to the plan if he’s included.
Document everything: every instance, date, time, outcome.  These records will be crucial for your school meetings, and in the case of physical assault, vandalizing, stalking or cyberbullying, with the police.http://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/whentheschoolpersonnelarethebullies/9/3/17.
Talk to school personnel to ascertain what they view:  teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses.  Seek support from the County Office of Education, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), ACLU, and anti-bullying projects.
“Cool Your Jets.”  You may be angry at the school for not protecting your child but don’t let that attitude seep through during your meeting.  Be prepared with notes, but remember you don’t want to attack the school employees.  Think of them as potential allies.
Know your school district’s policies and relevant state and federal laws.  Read your state laws.  What are your school district’s policies on safety, bullying, and non-discrimination.
If your complaints are taken seriously, within a reasonable period of time, at the District level, go to the County Office of Education or even the State Department of Education.
If the federal laws are involved in cases of discriminatory harassment on basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, you can contact the Office for Civil Rights at the Federal Department of Education and file a complaint as well. For a sample of the chain of command for a uniform complaint form in California, please seehttp://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...schooling/.../myschoolwon'tstopthebullying/9/3/14.
If all these tactics don’t work, you might consider transferring your child to another school or home school.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Time Is Now To Outsmart School Bullies!

The lazy days of summer are almost over.  Soon, the new backpacks, notebooks come shuffling into school.  And it's time for the bullies to return to your LGBT's child school and make your child's school year a living hell unless you intercept.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at their school.  Ninety-two percent of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT: in school, the Internet, and by peers. No wonder LGBT youth miss as much as a day of school per month, according to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network).  

Is bullying the same as teasing?  No, it isn't.  It's defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged kids that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  It includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

According to Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know, even if parents don't have the shared experience of being in this "out group," it doesn't mean that you cannot develop a 'radar" for discovering whether this is going on and help your child to combat bullying. It takes time to stop bullying.  Be persistent.

Before school starts, help your child devise a plan to feel safe.  Assure your child that being a bullying victim is not his fault.  Says Dr. Tobkes, "many children will feel humiliated and ashamed and think they have brought it on themselves.  Do not BLAME the child for being bullied.  Tell your child to come to you right away if anyone is making disparaging remarks or threats," advises Dr. Tobkes.

How do you get your child to open up?

Listen and focus on him.  It's important for a child to know that their home, school, community will want to protect him.  Emphasize that bullying should not be tolerated.  Everyone is entitled to be educated in an atmosphere that makes them feel safe.


Here are some ways you can keep your child safe:


  • Brainstorm about alternating their route home so that an adult is always present.
  • Do not call the parents of the bully.  It could backfire on your child.  
  • *Role play with your child.  Pretend you're the bully and have your child develop pat answers.
  • *Reverse roles.
  • Model good behavior.

Parents are the most effective deterrent to bullying.  Says Dr. Tobkes,"  I have found that the most important prognostic indicator for a child being targeted for his sexuality is having a safe haven retreat at home."






Sunday, July 22, 2018

Are LGBTQ Teens Better Off Today?

New Study by HRC/UConn. Shows LGBTQ Feel Anxious and Depressed!

The Human Rights Campaign jointly with the University of Connecticut released their findings last May of the survey done of 12,000 LGBTQ 13 to 17 year-olds across the United States. https://www.teenvogue.com/.../new-study-shows-lgbtq-youth-feel-anxious-and-depressed/ The results revealed that most of these LGBTQ teens are experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and stress daily in school and at home.

Here are highlights of the alarming statistics:


  • 77% of respondents reported that they felt depressed in the last week.
  • 95% experience trouble sleeping.
  • More than 3/4 of the people surveyed reported feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, signs of depression.
At home:

  • 67% said they've heard families make negative remarks about their sexual orientation.
  • 78% surveyed responded that those negative comments influenced their decisions to come out.
  • The non-acceptance is worse for LGBT youth of color and trans youth.  They are more likely to be taunted or mocked by their families.
These findings often run counter to the pride that LGBTQ teens feel.  In fact, 91% reported feeling pride in their identity and 93% feel proud to be members of the LGBTQ community.

So, this positivity is not offset by parental rejection, parents can do the following, according to Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling, 2016):

  • Accept that you do not have the power to change your child's sexual orientation. Do not think being gay is a phase or choice.  Accept that your child is definitely and permanently gay.
  • If you reacted badly to your child's coming out, it's never too late to remedy the situation: First apologize.  You might say something like "what you told me last week really came as a surprise to me.  While it may take some time to digest the news, but I will always love you."
  • The only way to alleviate internal angst and achieve a sense of equanimity is through acceptance. 
  • Listen, listen, lister to gain understanding of your child's sexuality.  Put down the cell phone/newspaper. Focus on the individual without any distractions.
  • Demonstrate in both words and acceptance that you will always love and support him/her unconditionally.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

When The Birds and Bees Only Fly Straight

As the parent of an LGBT child, you may not want to leave sex education to your child's middle or high school.  In San Diego, parents picket sex education at their schools because they don't find mention of anal sex, masturbation appropriate for middle schoolers. In conservative Orange County, California, parents can withdraw consent for the whole sex education curriculum or for instruction on HIV and STI prevention.  However, what they cannot do is specifically withdraw their consent for class instruction deemed non-discriminatory on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the California Healthy Youth Act in 2015.

In seven other states, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, local or state education laws that expressly forbid teachers of health/sexuality education from discussing LGBT people or topics.  These laws are called "no promo homo." Some laws even require that teachers actively portray LGB people in a negative or an inaccurate way, according to GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Education Network.

As LGBT-inclusive curriculums are few, and erratic at best, it's better for parents to be the sex ed. teachers.  A school or doctor can't impart values about sexual relationships as a parent can.  An LGBT student may be embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health in school for fear he will be singled out and harassed.

While you may be uncomfortable discussing sexual practices, birth control, sexual diseases, among other concerns, it will make a favorable impression on your LGBT child. Your home is not a semester-only class.   Do your LGBT homework so you can deliver the material in your home.  It's ok to admit you're embarrassed at first, but the curriculum is yours, and you will know how it's delivered.

Knowledge is empowering.  Contrary to beliefs, frank instruction does not lead to sexual promiscuity.