Sunday, August 25, 2013

10 Things Your LGBT Kid Wants To Hear From You


In my blog on 7/28/13, I suggested “10 Things Your Gay Child Does Not Want To Hear From You.” http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com. Now, I suggest what you may want to tell him/her, based on research, to encourage discussion and an ongoing dialogue.

Ten Points to Cover:
1.     Thank you for sharing your story with me.  It must have been hard for you to tell me (shows pride and encourages further dialogue).
2.     I’m proud that have the presence at your age to come out.  It shows confidence, honesty, and self-awareness.
3.     I love you and always will. ( all kids, not just LGBT ones, who feel vulnerable, want unconditional love and acceptance). So often, LGBT kids are told that it’s not o.k.to be “different.”
4.     How long have your known? (shows interest in their journey to gayness).
5.     Would you like me to discuss your orientation with other family members? If so, whom? It’s your call.  Have you told your sister? Brothers? Extended family? (shows respect for privacy – it’s his or her story).
6.     Who at school knows?  Friends? Teacher?  Guidance counselor?
7.     Do you have support groups for your orientation?  Gay-Straight Alliance, chat rooms on-line, etc. (Besides your support, your child will obtain further help from LGBT community, particularly from own age group).
8.     How do you feel about being gay?  Are you accepted at school? (opens up conversation about possible self-hatred or harassment from others and possible need for therapy, especially if depression exhibited).
9.     Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Are they out?  I’d like to meet them (shows interest in whom is important in their life and acceptance of their sexual orientation).
10.   Now, that I know you’re gay, I intend to find out more about gay issues.  I hope you will educate me as well (shows open mind and ability to have your child take the lead – this is one area where they will most likely know more than you!).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hypothetical Letter to Kaitlyn Hunt



Dear Kaitlyn,

I’ve been riveted to your case for months now.  I don’t have a “Free Kaitlyn” T-shirt or decal for my car to prove it, but I was horrified to learn that because, you, as a eighteen year-old, had sex with a minor, 14, now 15, that you could have gone to prison for up to fifteen years, and been labelled a sexual predator! Your profile does not fit one of a sexual predator or “perp” (as Law and Order televison show would have it!)

Your Charges
Kids like you are having sex in high school, gasp, even in middle school. You claim to be in love with the victim, a fifteen-year-old, a basketball teammate, but we never hear from the victim, only her parents who went to the sheriff’s office to press charges against you.  Your victim’s parents told the Sheriff’s office that you two had sex in the Sebastian River High School bathroom (not cool!).  What were you thinking?  You might as well have made love on the football field with spectators packed in the bleachers!  The parents also said their daughter ran away from home to your house where she stayed.  This is called “interfering with parental custody,” another strike against you.

Victim in Therapy
I don’t know if you’re a lesbian for life or just experimenting.  Obviously, your love interest is unhappy at home.  According to the local paper, she is in therapy.  I don’t know if this is a form of conversion therapy on the parent’s part to make their daughter straight or whether you really messed up her head.  Your parents claim that the victim’s parents knew that you were dating.

Your Parents Accept Your Gayness
Your parents don’t seem to have a problem with you’re being a practicing lesbian and have taken to the Internet (Change.org.) to garner signatures  (well over 200,000 to date) to get sympathizers for your case and have it reduced to a misdemeanor. Your father, divorced from your mother, has also raised money on the Internet (“go fund me”) for your defense fund. Your parents believe that the judges involved in your case are homophobic, yet if you receive misdemeanors, instead of felony charges for lewd and lascivious battery charges and interfering with parental custody, your case will be similar to two precedent ones of heterosexual high school students in the same county. They received misdemeanors for having sex with underage victims.  But they also obeyed the judge’s orders.

No Touch the i-pod Touch
Your defense team turned down an earlier plea offer for a child abuse charge.  However, you and your mother have violated the conditions of your pretrial release.  Big time.  You were told not to have contact with the victim on February 17th, yet sent over two dozen pornographic shots of yourself on March 7th and April 3rd to the victim.  You gave the victim an i-pod Touch in March and sent over 20,000 text messages to your girlfriend.  Your mother is acting like an accomplice and told the victim to delete the text messages.  You, your mother, and if the victim deletes the messages, are flaunting your entitlement!

Risky Business
During your senior year in high school you were a honor student, an athlete, a cheerleader, yet you still could go to jail.  I read in the newspaper this morning that you second plea deal keeping you out of jail has been withdrawn. The attorney for the underage victim told News Channel 5  that the prosecution withdrew the plea deal offer owing to the violation of your pretrial release. 
Now, with no plea deal being offered, you’re facing felony charges, jail time, and could become a registered sex offender if convicted.  Tomorrow afternoon you have a hearing.  God help you!
    
  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Protect Your Child Against Cyberbullies


School is about to start.  As I mentioned in my last post, LGBT kids often dread the school year because compared to heterosexuals, they are bullied two to three times more. Perhaps, even more insidious and pervasive than bullying is cyberbullying. As Ellen Friedrichs, editor of About.com GLBT Teens, writes: “the barrier provided by the Internet allows some people to be incredibly cruel in ways they probably wouldn’t be if they were standing right in front of the person they were bashing.”

What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is on-line practice of harassment. on-line and over-cell phones, with intention to harm.  A cyberbully could be a classmate, neighbor or anonymous user. He can text, use social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube as well as Instagram, Tumblr and other photo and blog sites. With the proliferation of these sites, their speed, and anonymity, the door has been opened for criminals.  And it’s easy for your child to be a target!

Effects of Bullying
We’ve all read about the tragic ongoing suicides of LGBT kids that are harassed. They have such low self-esteem.  According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 6/12/13, teenage victims of cyberbullying are most likely to develop symptoms of depression, substance abuse and internet addiction.
As cyberbullying is a growing problem that doesn’t seem to dissipate, parents need to know how it operates.
·      Someone can get your child’s password and use it to send fake messages or post fake comments.
·      A perpetrator can create a fake profile of another person.
·      Groups can gang up on your child online.
·      A cyberbully can post unattractive or unflattering pictures or videos of your child.
·      Non-respectful people can post nasty things to your child online privately or in a public space.

What Parents Can Do To Thwart Bullies
·      Report cyberbullying.
·      Don’t respond and don’t forward messages.
·      Cancel social networking, e-mail and cell phone accounts and open new accounts.
·      Block the bullies and unfriend them.
·      Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Save emails and bullying messages.
·      If being bullied on Facebook, report the “perp” to the site’s administrator and block the bully.

For Serious Bullying, Involve the Police
Criminal Acts are classified as:
·      Threats of violence.
·      Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos.
·      Taking a photo/video of someone in place where he/she would expect privacy.
·      Stalking and hate crimes

Report Cyberbullying to School Administration when
·      Schools can use the information to help inform.
·      In some states, prevention and response strategies in schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy.
·      Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that’s reflected in a hostile school environment.
For more tips, see the U.S. Government’s anti-bullying initiative and resource website:.http://stopbullyinggov./cyberbullying-

Practice The Golden Rule
Finally, ask your kid if he/she has been bullied and if he/she has bullied others.  Remind your child that there are two basic rules about bullying: treat everyone with respect and always tell an adult whenever he experiences or witnesses bullying.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back-to-School Bullying



How You Can Help Your Child From Being Bullied
For many school kids, going back to school is a pleasant experience: fresh start, new clothes, new teachers, and getting reacquainted with classmates. But for many GLBT children, back-to-school represents another year of enduring being bullied or harassed by homophobic classmates, and even teachers!
What LGBT School Kids Have Reported:
  • ·      GLSEN (The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) documented that 9 out of 10 LGBT teens are the victims of anti-gay bullying.
  • ·      LGBT students are most apt to skip school, often as much as one day per month. Nearly 160,000 children miss school out of fear of being bullied.
  • ·      Four out of five LGBT youth say they don’t know one supportive adult at school.
  • ·      Twenty-eight percent of gay students will drop out of school. This represents more than three times the national average for heterosexual students.

Don’t Count On Schools To Protect Your Child
In a perfect world, adults such as a counselor, teacher, nurse or principal should come to the aid of an LGBT child who is being harassed.  But, as you see from the above statistics, those in position to help often turn their backs. This creates an even greater necessity for parents to support their LGBT children at home.

Although thirty-nine states have anti-bullying laws, only California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have laws that specifically protect LGBT students from bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Safe Schools Improvement Act reintroduced in Congress would amend the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to require schools receiving federal funds to adopt codes prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, race and religion.

What You Can Do At Home To Support Your Child
  • ·      Have your child describe situations that smack of bullying.  What should he/she do when it happens?
  • ·       What was the outcome of the bullying?  What did the school say about bullying and what did they advise to do about it?
  • ·   Ask your child what works and doesn’t work in that situation. Who in school handled the harassment well and who didn’t?    
  •     Most bullies want to see their targets upset.  When they don’t get a reaction, they are likely to stop. Prepare your child by role playing. Practice strategies so your child will be prepared and feel confident. Come up with a 2 or 3 step reaction process to rehearse counter attacks.
  • ·         Tell the bully to stop and if he doesn’t, tell an adult. Emphasize that this is not tattling! 

For more suggestions, see http://www.MyKindnessCounts.com




Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blew Your Child's Coming Out? Ways to Recover


In my last post, I shared tips on what NOT to say to your gay child after he/she has come out – you know, stuff they would NOT want to hear.  But suppose, during your child’s revelation, you  felt threatened and scarred, and like a frightened animal, lashed out – not with biting or violent attacks, but with insensitive hurtful remarks?

You probably left the room and the conversation in a huff.  If so, it’s time for you, the parent, to set things right with your child.  You may have been unprepared for his coming out and blown your cool, but you can prepare yourself this time for talks to recover. One of the gifts of parenting is that you can always readdress a situation gone badly.

Here are some examples of what you can say and do to reconcile:
1.     You know you really threw me off when you told me you were gay (lesbian, bisexual), I wasn’t expecting it.  So, I acted badly. I apologize for my past insensitivities and hope you will forgive me. I needed time to digest the news.
2.     Thanks for sharing it with me. It really took a lot of courage for you to tell me/us.  I’m sure you felt vulnerable and yet had the strength and self-esteem to come out.
3.     I am honored that you felt the need to make us/me an important part of his/her future. You must want us as part of your life or we wouldn’t have been told.
4.     I love you no matter what and I’m still your parent. Nothing will change between you and I. We will always support you.
5.     I will always regard you as my son, daughter who is kind, funny, smart. (or substitute your own applicable adjectives).You haven’t changed.
6.     It’s o.k. to admit that you don’t have all the answers.  Remind him that you might need help while you are trying to understand.  You may have questions that you hope aren’t offensive to him/her.  Ask for his patience.
7.     However, don’t deal with your issues in front of your child and make him feel guilty. You may feel overwhelmed, but probably not as much as your child who deals with his gayness on a day-to-day basis.  There is support for parents which will allow you to rethink your attitudes so that you can put your child’s health and well-being ahead of your own moral/religious beliefs.
8.     Listen, listen, listen to his concerns and ask how you can best support him/her. You want to encourage an ongoing dialogue, not a one-time conversation.
9.     Just as important as what you say is the ambience in which you converse.  Don’t have any distractions like cell phones, television, computers on.
10.  Don’t talk when you’re tired, rushed to go somewhere, preparing dinner.  Make time to talk.
11.  Watch your body language. Eye contact is important.
12.  Stay calm.  Make sure you are both cooled down before speaking.  If not, then suggest another time.