Monday, December 22, 2014
Did you know that kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
• Abuse alcohol and drugs
• Experience in-person bullying
• Drop out of school
• Receive poor or failing grades
• Have lower self-esteem
• Have more health and mental health problems
• Display anger, frustration, and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems
• Begin to cut themselves
• Commit suicide
• 70% of students say they see frequent bullying online.
• 81% of youth think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person. (no face-to-face contact, wider audience for revenge, more invasive and around-the-clock harassment possible) in the virtual world.
• Approximately 10 to 20 percent of youths experience cyberbullying regularly, particularly overweight and LGBT kids!
It’s Abuse, 24/7.
With a loooong vacation, or so it seems for parents, kids will be tethered even more so to their cell phones and laptops. Without the structure of school and daily homework, your children will have more free time to text and receive them from bullies. To monitor cyberbullying at any time, teach your kids to:
• Refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages.
• Tell their friends to stop cyberbullying.
• Block communication with cyberbullies; delete messages without reading them.
• Never post or share their or their friends’ personal information online.
• Never share their Internet passwords with anyone, but you.
• Not put anything online that they wouldn’t want their classmates to see, even in email.
• Not send messages when they’re angry or upset.
• Remind your child that she should not send any message or photo that she would regret having copied and dispersed widely.
Source: National Crime Prevention Council
How You Can Monitor Your Child’s Technology Use
• Keep the computer in a well-traveled area of the house so you can supervise.
• Limit data access to your child’s smart phone if he or she uses it to surf the web. Some wireless providers allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours.
• You can set up filters on your child’s computer with tracking software. This blocks inappropriate web content.
• Know your child’s passwords and learn common acronyms kids use online and in text messages.
• Who is on your child’s “buddy list” and address book? Find out.
• Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they are cyberbullied and reassure them that this does not constitute tattletelling or loss of computer or cell phone privileges.
Sexting On the Rise: What Parents Can Do
While you are discussing cyberbullying with your kids, include a discussion on sexting (sending text messages with sexual content and images). It can be a type of child exploitation. In some states, minors who take sexually suggestive photographs of themselves and send them to others can be criminally charged with distribution of child pornography! Your minor could be registered as a sex offender. In July 2012, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, reported that nearly 30% of teens say they sent nude photos of themselves via text or E-mail!
• Discuss the social and legal consequences of sexting. Sharing too much information on the internet can potentially damage your child’s future or ruin their reputation.
• Teach your child that just because a photo is deleted on their mobile phone or social networking site, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t archived elsewhere.
• You can establish a phone curfew or have your service provider disable some functions such as the camera or picture messaging.
• Services such as My Mobile Watch Dog or Phone Sheriff can monitor your child’s cell phone use.
What Does A Parent Do If Child is Cyberbullied
• Don’t reply to cyberbullying. However, you should save the harassing messages and/or sexually explicit pictures and report them to the police.
• Report incidents to the ISP, the cell phone company, and to any web site used in the cyberbullying.
• Change your child’s email address or phone number. Block the cyberbully’s e-mail address or cell phone number.
• You could contact the offender’s parents if you know the bully or notify your child’s school. Many schools have established protocols for handling cyberbullying.
Vacation + No School = Ideal Environment For Bullying
Whether your child is on vacation or in school, be sure to monitor their internet usage. However, with holidays, be extra vigilant!
Monday, December 15, 2014
Last week, I wrote about what not to say when your child comes out. Due to the many distractions of the holidays, I also suggested that this is the worst time for anyone to come out as he/she will not be heard. However, as some LGBT kids only see their families on major holidays, they may feel it’s an appropriate to divulge the news at this time.
Advice From the LGBT Child
What’s a parent to do in this case? Some clues came to me through a graduate student at Indiana University. He came out for the first time when he was 19 over Thanksgiving weekend (another hectic time). His brave news was met with anger, disbelief, denial, and the urge to reform him. Nasty e-mails, phone calls followed and threats of withholding funds for college, much to no avail.
Parental Response Not So Unusual
When he was home again, the same questions were posed: “Are you sure?” “How would you know?” “You never dated in high school?” “Your soul is endangered! You will go to Hell!” C. (don’t want to divulge his name as he is planning on coming out again, this time five years later). answered with short replies, followed by silence, then the questions would start all over again.
Tedious, yes! Unnerving, you bet. With time, many parents usually come around to accepting their child’s sexual orientation. However, in this case, the acceptance that C. craved, has not shone forth. Despite his initial plea “this is who I am” he saw that his parents wouldn’t change and last summer, he told them that he was “straight” just so they wouldn’t “bug” him anymore. “It was like they had amnesia. Suddenly, everything was “hunky-dory.”
Parents & Gay Son Hanging By A Thread
However, this charade has taken its toll on him. He doesn’t like to “split” holidays, but this year, he is going to his roommate boyfriend’s parents’ home, where they are accepted, in Las Vegas, and then will see his parents alone later during his holiday. This “dancing around” the issue will soon cease as he is preparing to come out again.
Second Coming Out
Wiser, he thinks the coming out will proceed better this time. What will he do differently?
• Not tell them over a holiday.
• Tell his parents that if they want to see him, they must accept him as a gay man and welcome his partner of over a year.
• Keep his parents’ attitudes in mind while divulging yet again.
What does C. wish from his parents?
• That although his parents may feel shame, guilt, fear, anger, so does he, their child. It’s a similar journey for both. “We have to see each other’s perspective and be in each other’s shoes, no matter how hard that is,” says C.
• While parents may be jealous of their friends with heterosexual children, they can still experience the joy of having a son/daughter-in-law and the celebration of events. The LGBT child, like C, who is not given unconditional love and support at home, will also be jealous of a family that accepts their child’s sexual orientation.
• Admiration for all that he has accomplished in life: top academic honors, positions in leadership clubs, jobs well done. He’s still the same person inside that his folks have always known. His gayness will not erase those good qualities.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Picture this: Your mother in her Santa sweater, your father in his red tie with tiny green wreaths in a home garlanded like Auntie Mamie’s duplex. Sis, decked out in velvet, is pouring eggnog for your Aunt Betty and Uncle Ralph as her brother keeps an eye on her munchkins who are pulling the candy canes from the tree. Mom is orchestrating the perfect gravy with cousin Susan in the kitchen.
Enter Stage Left Through A Door Adorned with Sleigh Bells
The prodigal gay son with his significant other who everyone thought was his buddy. Son introduces his friend as his boyfriend and announces that he is gay.
Conversation halts. Boyfriend is embarrassed. Mom and Dad are speechless. Everyone is uncomfortable. Now the holiday is all about you. What’s wrong with this picture?
Act I Didn’t Get Rave Reviews
Holidays, while a gathering time for families, should not be used as a platform for coming out. It will make your holiday insufferably long.
Parents need time to process the information. Even though they may know in their hearts that you are gay, it is different to hear it from the source! Your important pronouncement deserves discussion in a non-distractable atmosphere and respect from those who need time to digest this earth-shaking news. Hectic holiday pace may cause family members to act strangely.
When Is A Good Time?
Although you may be bursting to tell your parents or feel an obligation to tell them because they have raised you, be sure the surroundings are compatible.
Choose a more relaxed time – perhaps a summer picnic, day at the beach, a non-holiday weekend.
Before you arrive home, you can make a decision about “being out” to each family member.
You may consider writing a letter that can be revisited several times by family members.
Discuss in advance how you will talk about relationships during your visit.
Connect with someone else who is LGBT who has experience coming out to get advice on breaking the news.
If you know in advance that your parents are homophobic and may try to eject you during the holidays, consider spending the holiday with a “chosen” family, one that is positive about your sexual orientation and will be supportive in your journey towards self-affirmation.
For more tips, see my blog http://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/There's-No-Place-For-Coming-Out-for-the-holidays/12/23/13 and
PFLAG (Parents for Families and Gays), with nationwide chapters, also has advice on coming out http://community.pflag.org/lgbtholidays.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Alarming Statistics From Centers for Disease Control
Did you know that:
• 1 in 4 new HIV infections occur in youth ages 13 to 24.
• About 60% of all youth with HIV do NOT know they are infected, and are not getting treated, and can unknowingly pass the virus on to others.
• About 50,00 people are infected with HIV yearly.
Talk To Your Kids About Being Safe
• Discuss with your child about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented. There may be misconceptions about the virus. Below are links for you to be informed.
• Use condoms always.
• Get tested. It’s the only way to know if you or a partner has HIV. Test for other STIS also.
What Are You Testing For:
• HIV antibodies, p24 Antigen (substances found on a foreign body or germ that trigger the production of antibodies in the body.) Testing can take several months for detectable levels of HIV antibodies. Consequently, your child should be tested every 3-6 months if sexually active.
• For accuracy, test should be done after the window period, term used to describe period of time between HIV infection and indicators of HIV infection showing up on tests, such as antibodies and antigens. Talk to your doctor about when to take the test. Different types of tests have different window periods.
Types of Tests
• Tests use either saliva or blood samples.
• FDA approved in 2012 an on-line kit for home sampling. Advantages: privacy, rapid test results, usually 20 minutes. Disadvantages: Positive result must be confirmed by blood test conducted by healthcare worker in a clinic. The healthcare professional will explain what results means and if positive, the next course of action re: treatment.
Places of Testing:
• Health clinics
• Doctors Surgeries
• Specialist HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) sites.
• It is recommended that an HIV test be carried out in a healthcare setting.
New Drugs to Combat HIV
• PrEP, sold under the name Truvada, is an HIV medication taken by someone who is HIV negative to stop them getting it. It has proven to be effective, both as a daily pill and as a pill taken just before sex. Must be used for 7 seven days to be effective and is intended for high-risk people. Not 100% effective. Been in use since 2004.
• PEP, or post-exposure Prophylaxis, is an emergency medication that can prevent HIV infection. It should be started as soon as possible before 72 hours after sex. It works by stopping HIV from making copies of itself and spreading through out your body. It should be started as soon as possible and must be taken for 28 consecutive days. Not 100% effective.
What You Can Do to Help Stop AIDS
• December 1st is World AIDS DAY, established in 1988 by the World Health Organization.
• Recommit to addressing HIV/AIDS, a disease that affects approximately 35 million people worldwide.
• U.S. Government’s theme this year is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”
• Nationwide, youth have been joining Facing Aids photo-sharing initiative.
• There’s a video on blog/aids.gov/2014/11/world-aids-day-2014-resources-for-a-shared-effort-towards-an-aids-free-generation.html.
• Learn and share the facts on youth and HIV using Facebook. Use World AIDS Day poster to make Facebook cover art.
• Share images from AIDS gov Instagram page.
• Keep the conversations going with tweets using #WAD 2014.
Useful Web sites:
• http:/AIDS.gov blog
• http://Prep Facts.org
• http: //www/cdc.gov/vital signs/ HIV Among Youth/index.html
Monday, November 24, 2014
Suggestion of Genetic Link for Male Homosexuality
This week, NorthShore Research Institute in Evanston, Illinois presented quasi-evidence that people are born gay. Although this study that looked at 409 sets of gay brothers fell short for a conclusion that being homosexual is inborn, the data was statistically too weak for a definitive answer to the riddle: Are you born gay or does your environment and upbringing cause you to be gay?
The study identified two genetic regions Xq28 and 8q12 that correlate to homosexuality in men. According to neuroscientist Simon LaVay, “being straight, bisexual, or gay, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.” Lead scientist of the National Institutes of Health-financed study Alan Sanders says that “not only genetics play a part in developing sexual orientation, but also upbringing and environment.”
Debate Shouldn’t Matter to Parents, Rights Do
As a parent, whether you’re of the religious right persuasion that believes your child has chosen this wicked lifestyle or you believe it’s innate shouldn’t matter. It is what it is.
Net, net, you will Not be able to change the person, make him straight. ( The wedding last week of the former advocate of conversion therapy, Dr. John Smid of infamous Love in Action, to Larry McQueen in Oklahoma is a case in point). The parent who believes that his child’s DNA caused his homosexuality may feel guilty for passing on that DNA responsible for his same-sex preference. In his mind, that parent could be making more issues in life for the child to combat. On the other hand, he may feel relieved that his actions within the family environment did not force the child to become gay.
Never Less Than
Whatever your beliefs, your child needs to be validated and loved for the person he or she is, not for your idealized version of him that started at birth. He or she is still the same person you’ve always known, only attracted to the same-sex.
Your child needs your support to combat homophobia. It may seem as if the U.S. is more accepting, with thirty-five states and the District of Columbia with legalized gay marriage, but it’s still not a gay-friendly world. There are still twenty-nine states where you can be fired for being gay. Violent Hate Crimes still exist against gays, and not just in rural, remote areas.
The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco Statehttp://familyproject.sfsu.edu/ cites the problems that LGBT youth face if not accepted at home: higher suicide rates compared to straight youth, more days missed in school if bullied, higher use of illicit drugs, and a large population of LGBT youth living on the streets because of rejection at home.
Movie stars may come out and may continue to be idolized. But that’s la-la-land. Many LGBT youth lose straight friends when they come out.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Anti-LGBT Rights Groups See Tony the Tiger Destroying Traditional Family Values
But It Started Earlier
In a definitely more innocent time of late 1950’s, I would sit cross-legged in my flannel pajamas anticipating Mighty Mouse with his cape to come swooping into our living room. Every Saturday a.m., I would wait with bated breath to watch the brave little mouse beat the bad guys.
I even remember part of the show’s theme:
Mr. Trouble never hangs around
When he hears this Mighty sound
Here I come to save the day!
That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!
Yes, sir, when there is a wrong to right,
Mighty Mouse will join the fight.
Mighty Mouse Resurrected in Late 80’s-90’s
I was excited to see that Mighty Mouse, like a prodigal son, returned to television briefly so my children could experience the same Saturday morning pleasure. However, now television didn’t seem so innocent.
On June 6, 1988, two weeks after my daughter was born, Donald Wildmon, head of American Family Association (AFA), the right-wing traditional family organization, decided that Mighty Mouse in The Littlest Tramp was sniffing cocaine out of a crushed flower. Honestly!
Also, two male mice who were showering together were thought to be homosexual. And I thought Mitzi Mouse was Mighty’s girlfriend all these years! After a brief rerun on Fox Kids in November 1992, Mighty Mouse disappeared from kids’ lives.
AFA Criticizes Bert and Ernie Too!
What could be cuter than Bert and Ernie snuggling on their couch as they watch on their television the SCOTUS decision when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA, defining marriage for only heterosexual couples? This home-spun sweet scene was depicted on the cover of the New Yorker (July 8 and 15, 2013) by Jack Hunter.
Despite the fact that Bert and Ernie were considered a secretly gay couple over the years, although Sesame Street denied the rumor, and 10,000 in 2011 signed an online petition urging the couple to get married, once again the AFA took to the airwaves to rant. See my blog on the topic ( http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/Conservatives-Act-As-If-It's-a-Punch-and-Judy-Show/.
Bert and Ernie were criticized by Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio host of “Focal Point” and Director of Issues Analysis for American Family Association, who insisted that the magazine cover “Moment of Joy” promoted child abuse and child endangerment and that the couple were depicted in a “homosexual clinch.”
AFA Working Itself Into a Lather Over Tony the Tiger Now!
More recently, Kellogg, a very LGBT-friendly company, was criticized by guess who? Kellogg’s sponsorship of Atlanta’s Gay Pride March and support of LGBT community has the AFA incensed once again. The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index gave Kellogg a perfect score for diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices and policies.
Yet, AFA is “bent out of shape” about Kellogg’s ad that features Tony the Tiger, which said “wear your stripes with pride.” “At Kellogg, the ad says, “ we’re an evolving culture that respects and accepts employees’ sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression so that all employees can be authentic and fully engaged.” Kellogg is not the only well-known company to pitch pro-LGBT ads. (Burger King, Honeymaid, Starbucks, to name a few).
“The Child Is The Father of The Man”
Truth is children don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. Adults do. “You have to be taught to hate.”
Would it be a better world if groups like the American Family Association stopped assigning their agenda to fictional characters? In the words of Tony the Tiger, it would be G-R-R-R-E-A-T!
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Tim Cook Says He’s Gay
Although Tim Cook was out to his friends, on October 30, he made a bold move by announcing that he was gay in a Business Week essay. According to The New York Times of the next day, “no business executive of Mr. Cook’s stature has ever done something like this before.”
Tim works in a creative environment at Apple in a state with liberal laws against sexual discrimination and gender identity. He is really rich and is protected by anti-discrimination laws; he is not about to be fired for his confession despite the fact that Silicon Valley has few prominent executives who are openly gay. While it may be “cool” to be out if you’re a celebrity, this new trend of self-realization via the airwaves is not necessarily carried over to most businesses.
“La-La Land” Not The Real World
In twenty-nine U.S. states, your LGBT son or daughter could get fired because of their sexual orientation. There is presently no federal law protecting workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or identity. Some states and cities have their own protections, but the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect all LGBT Americans working for employers with at least fifteen employees, hasn’t passed. It’s been ten years since it was introduced in 1994.
Being fired, contracting HIV, verbal daily harassments, assaults, these are all issues that many straight parents fear for their LGBT children. Does their child have to stay closeted amid rumors about his/her private life? If word gets out, will their child stay at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder?
Although our country is more progressive with thirty-two states boasting marriage equality, the concerns delineated by the former CEO of Ford, Allan Gilmour, still hold true in many offices today. Gilmour, who congratulated Cook for outing himself, said as a “gay man, he kept his own sexual orientation a closely guarded secret, but there were rumors...” He was twice passed over for the top job. Retired at age 60 in 1995, two years before Ellen de Generes outed herself in Time magazine, Gilmour waited until after his retirement to announce he was gay. Said he, “my life had a new, and wonderful dimension. I didn’t have to dissemble, lie, exaggerate change the subject, etc. I was what I was.”
Some LGBT children find it hard to compartmentalize their life: office vs. personal. It’s a constant balancing act that dances around the issues: Do I appear too gay for the office? Do I have to hide whom I spent the weekend with? Do I not bring my significant other to the office Christmas party? How many excuses do I have to make up to get out of being fixed up with a cohort’s friend?
Cook As Role Model – “Proud To be Gay”
Tim Cook’s motives for outing himself in a Bloomberg publication appear to be altruistic. He certainly doesn’t need the attention or fame. As quoted from the essay, “hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with whom he or she is or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.” According to Bloomberg’s Senior Executive Editor Josh Tyrangiel, Cook had sought and received the approval of Apple’s Board before making the announcement.
Even Cook Gets Criticized
Generally, Cook’s proclamation has been praised. However, in his boyhood Bible Belt state of Alabama, one of the twenty-nine states without protections, Cook has criticized Alabama for not being quick enough to protect the rights of LGBT people. For his activism, he has been maligned.
Recently, Putin’s Russia, concerned with the “gay agenda” removed the statue of Cook’s predecessor Steve Jobs.( Sixty percent of Apple’s sales are outside the United States in countries where homosexuality is considered punishable.) But back in the good ole’ U.S., at least, it’s started a dialogue, and who knows, maybe a movement.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged
This year, National Forgiveness Day is celebrated on October 25. It’s a day to forgive and be forgiven. It’s a chance to set things right, to put aside old differences, move beyond grievances and hurts.
Human nature is quick to criticize others, find fault to make us feel superior and to emphasize whatever inadequacies we perceive as the truth. Whether Christian or Agnostic, it is often easier to hold “a grudge” than to admit to ourselves that we are wrong.
As a parent, we often lash out at a child who disappoints, who doesn’t lead his/her life as we expect them to do. A parent who envisions grandchildren produced by a heterosexual marriage is going to be nonplussed when his child announces that he/she is gay. The life-long dream is now dashed by the words “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.”
When it comes to homosexuality within their family, many liberals, who think it’s fine for others, react viscerally to their kid’s “coming out.” Suddenly, the news is not fit for their backyard. Common responses include: “you’re too young to know,” “you can’t be, you’re so masculine,” “you’ll change, I know!”, “what have I done to you?”, “Are you sure?”, “You’ll go to Hell.”
Many blurt out those inappropriate remarks because they have not adjusted to the news and its meaning to the entire family. They have split-seconds to react, and surveys have reported that it’s usually not in a loving manner.
What comes across in those angry exchanges is I don’t love you unless you change. A straight parent of the religious-right will most likely regard his child’s sexual orientation as sinful. However, in reality, there is nothing sinful about being gay. It’s not a choice, a lifestyle, but an integral factor in their being.
Because there is nothing sinful, there is nothing to forgive.
However, your child, who desperately wants unconditional love and support, may have a tough time forgiving you. What he/she wanted to hear is “I love you, no matter what.” Remember this is the same child you’ve always loved for his humor, kindness, and intelligence.
To Err is Sinful, To Forgive Is Divine
To forgive is actually in your hands. First, forgive yourself for making insensitive remarks. It’s hard to think clearly when you brain goes into denial mode.
How can you recover and readdress the situation?
• First apologize. For example, you could say, “you know you really caught me off-guard the other day when you came out. I reacted badly and should have conveyed my love and support for you.
• I’m always here for you. I hope to learn more about what it means to be gay and would be grateful if you educate me. How long have you known?
• Please feel free to bring any gay friends to my house. They are welcome.
• How have you been treated at school? Whom would you like me to tell in the family or friends, if any? Does your sister/brother know or any friends?
By opening up a dialogue with your gay child, you are forgiving yourself, trying to set things right. In turn, he/she will forgive you as he will know you care enough to admit your past wrongdoings and your current willingness to have an open mind and heart.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Gay Marriage Gains Momentum in U.S.
October 17th Is a Groundbreaking Day
This week, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message last Friday that the U.S. government would recognize marriages for federal benefits in seven new states: Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah. Also, on Friday, a federal judge struck down Arizona’s ban on gay marriage and a The U.S. Supreme Court denied the state of Alaska’s request to put a stop to gay marriages pending an appeal. Earlier, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess ruled earlier that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
What does this mean for parents? Susie and Johnny may not be marrying the opposite sex, but brides and brides as well as grooms and grooms may now walk down the aisle in twenty-six states. You’re not losing a daughter, but gaining one.
I'm O.K., You're O.K.
One of the biggest blows to straight parents of gay and lesbian children is the fact that their daughter or son won’t get married and produce grandchildren. However, the American Family is being redefined every day, maybe not what you, the straight parent, originally envisioned, but for the majority of Americans, same-sex marriage is o.k., particularly for the under-30 age group. Parents needn’t worry about their child being relegated to a life of loneliness; it is possible for their child to get married in the majority of states now.
What Me Worry?
As same-sex marriage is a new concept, parents may worry about its lasting effects. However, Michael Callahan, writer for Men’s Health, September 30, 2014, http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/gay-guys-to-the-rescue, reports that the landmark 2008 study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, followed gay couples for three years, and found that “by nearly every metric, they reported higher-quality relationships and felt more satisfied than straight married couples did.”
What About Children
For parents who worry about the effects that a non-traditional marriage has on their children, consider this:
While adoption is not automatic in many states and is complicated by the fact that the spouse often has to adopt the child of the other spouse, an Australian study (ACHESS), the first of its kind to consider the health and well-being of children with same-sex parents, found that children from same-sex families scored about 6% higher on general , health, and family cohesion. On most health measures, including emotional behavior and physical functioning, the 500 children of 315 same-sex parents in Australia showed no difference compared with children from the general population.
With more states performing gay marriage and studies pointing to the success of gay relationships, your children’s decision to marry and have children will not be considered “less than” or inferior to your traditional marriage defined as between man and woman.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Advice Applies for Other 364 Days A Year
Last week, I wrote about the meaning of National Coming Out Day, October 11th and gave tips on what parents should say if their child does come out.
Today, I’ll suggest tactics that show you care as your child’s greatest supporter.
Ways to Be A Straight Ally
- · You can participate in a local event. Perhaps your child’s school is having a Gay-Straight Alliance event.
- · Post a Facebook status. Include the Human Rights Campaign logo.
- · Wear a classic gay pride symbol. A lapel pin with a rainbow flag or a peace pin in rainbow colors are appropriate.
- · Volunteer at a LGBT organization such as PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays) or The Trevor Project, a Suicide Prevention Hotline.
- · Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Project (NCOP) provides a free National Coming Out Day Kit which includes information, resources, and ideas. See http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/national-coming-out-day.
- · HRC also has a downloadable guide on its site “Coming Out as a Straight Supporter.”
- · Above all, be a good listener and show your love.
Don Don't You & Your Child Feel Pressured To Come Out ‘Though
Just because it’s National Coming Out Day doesn’t mean that your child should feel as if he/she should come out to the world. Your child may be comfortable telling only you; he may feel scared of harassment at school, fear rejection of friends. This may not be the right time for him to divulge his orientation.
While some LGBT persons may feel relieved, unburdened and want to tell everyone, your child will most likely choose to share with different people at different times in his life. Do not try to rush his maturity.
Take Your Lead From Him/Her. You may be dying to tell your best friend. If he/she doesn’t want you to tell Grandma, Aunt Sarah, then don’t. It’s your child’story and life, every day of the year.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
What Is National Coming Out Day?
Observed annually, this internationally observed day celebrates coming out and raises awareness of the LGBT+ community and civil rights movement. As part of LGBT history month, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) celebrates individuals who publicly identify as a gender or sexual minority. October 11th is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
How Is The Holiday Observed?
Many people celebrate the holiday by staging rallies, parades, setting up LGBT information tables. You will see participants wearing pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.
What If Your Child Decides to Come Out On October 11?
What Do You Say?
· Thank you for sharing your story with me. It must have been hard for you to tell me. Give him/her a hug. (shows pride and encourages further dialogue).
· I love you and always will. (Kids want unconditional love and acceptance. So often, they are told it’s not o.k.)
· How long have you known? (shows interest in their journey).
· Would you like me to discuss with others? If so, whom? Have you told your sister, brother, friends at school? (shows respect for privacy – it’s his or her story).
· 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 love interests).
· How do you feel about being gay? Are you accepted at school? (opens up conversation about possible self-hatred or harassment from others).
· 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 his/her own group).
· I intend to find out more about gay issues now that I know you’re gay. 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 the child knows more than the parent, usually!
· I’m proud that you have the presence at your age to come out. It shows confidence, honesty, and self-awareness. (end on a positive note that encourages ongoing discussion).
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Boy, am I glad my child doesn’t attend high school in South Williamsport, Pa.! Otherwise, he would not be allowed to watch a high school production of the Tony-award winning play Spamalot that I saw on Broadway in 2009 after its four- year run.
Amusing and clever, the parody was a painless history lesson that featured David Hyde Pierce. The musical was based on the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” The movie contains a subplot about Sir Lancelot, who as a gay man, ends up in a same-sex marriage.
Williamsport High School principal Jesse Smith, cancelled the show because of its supposed gay content.
Not everyone agrees with Smith and had staged a rally this week before the Monday’s Town Board meeting.
You see as far back as June, the principal e-mailed theatrical director Dawn Burch about his reservations regarding scenes in Spamalot. Burch defends the musical, as do I, as suitable for all age groups.
However, Smith’s objections, quoted in The New York Times: “Pennsylvania Principal Cancels Spamalot,” September 23, 2014, stated that “he didn’t want families to be afraid of bringing small kids because of the content” or force students “to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”
Golly gee, what kid today doesn’t know that there is (gasp!) such a phenomenon as gay men and gay marriage? They watch television, hear comments from friends. No one is saying that Spamalot is endorsing gay marriage nor is it saying that the viewer must endorse it also.
However, Williamsport High School is not the only offender. The American Civil Liberties Union has found that some public school districts in states such as Arkansas and Pennsylvania have censored LGBT websites so students can not access legitimate information. This web filtering program is discriminatory.
Now that your kids have been in school for over two weeks, you may want to find out what GLBT-friendly programs are in place for your child. So, you can weed out the discriminatory ones.
Monday, September 15, 2014
You May Not Know Her Name, But Her Work Has Enlightened Parents
Caitlin Ryan is a clinical social worker with a Ph.D. She lives in San Francisco and is a lesbian. If her name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because she, an Irish Catholic, was the focus of an article in the New York Times, September 13, 2014, entitled “ A Social Worker Helps Mormon Families to Accept Gay Children” by Samuel G. Freedman.
Field Work Among LGBT Homeless and Parents of Gay Children
In 2008, she started a program called the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State. The first of its kind, this project studied the effect of family acceptance and rejection on the mental health and well-being of LGBT youth including HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and suicide.
The research found that how a parent responds to the coming out of their LGBT children had a profound impact on the child’s psyche, even years later. What the Family Acceptance Project found that LGBT youths who experience high rejection from their families(when compared with those young people who experienced little or no rejection from their families):
· Were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
· More than 6 times likely to report high levels of depression.
· Were more than 3 times likely to use illegal drugs and more than 3 times likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs by the time they reach their early 20s.
· In addition, 40% of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.
How does a parent avoid all these undesirable outcomes for their LGBT child? Unconditional love, without it, the hurt lingers. Ryan and her colleagues spread that message through handbooks, films, research papers, to name a few outlets.
For tips on how you can be more accepting of your child’s sexual orientation, see http://www.family acceptance project @sfs.edu.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Today is National Grandparents Day. In terms of supporting a family with a GLBTQ child, grandparents can play a major role.Who better than the experienced and enlightened grandparent whose advancing years have mellowed attitudes about everything: “seen and done it all?”
Parents Too Close For Objectivity?
While the parents, like many, may react with fear, disappointment, confusion, and anger over a child’s coming out, the grandparent can not only offer the approval and unconditional love that the child needs, but be a shoulder for the parent who needs time to readjust his/her expectations for his child as well. The hard-wired notions of the child’s future has suddenly been upended. The parent’s hopes are withered.
Maybe because the grandma or grandpa doesn’t live under the same roof as the bewildered parent and spends less time with the grandchild, he doesn’t get involved with day-to-day slugfests about dress nor does he hear the exasperated phrases in the household “It’s Just a Phase! You’re Too Young to Know!” – verbal cyanide for any LGBT child who knows his identity better than anyone.
A Calm Presence
Grandma’s house is not full of tension, stress. It’s a safe haven. The same woman who may have made clothes for you, baked cakes with you, is the one now who continues to hug you and tells you you’re great just the way you are. (Even if a parent has been accepting of his GLBT child’s sexual orientation from the git-go, grandparents can supplement this attitude).
Modern Family Redefined
Generally, the grandparent doesn’t care to try and change the child’s orientation, an unsuccessful tactic that only incites anger, confusion and makes the child feel unloved. Coming clean is a personal necessity, a release of an internal pressure he/she can no longer hide. It’s a compliment that she reveals her true identity.
Even though the grandmother and also the parent grew up in a time when a young woman or could not come out of the closet, unlike the parent, the grandparent usually does not go in the closet when the child announces his sexual orientation.
For unconditional love, the relative with no agenda is often the best, particularly for bruised emotions.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Don’t Let Them Get the Upper Hand!
No longer relegated to the playground, the bus, the cafeteria, this bully can now work full-time before school, after school at targeting his victim. With just a few clicks, the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds, even thousands of people online.
According to research conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), more than 80% of LGBT kids experience cyberbullying defined as harassment of others using Internet, mobile phones or other types of cyber technology with intention to threaten or humiliate.
Because of modern technology’s ability to reach large audiences, cyberbullying is particularly invasive. We’ve all read about suicides of youths resulting from this non-stop form of bullying. In fact, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Ways They Can Get To You
Boys tend to bully by “sexting” or with messages that threaten physical harm. Girls in general spread lies, rumors, expose secrets or exclude the victim from e-mails. The cyberbully can post pictures to embarrass or hurt, send threatening e-mails or text messages, dupes you into revealing personal information, pretends to be you online and can spread rumors, and all these insidious methods can be done anonymously.
So, what can a parent do?
- · Keep all computers in a common area of your house so you can see what’s going on. Monitor its use. Try to find out whom your child communicates with.
- · Have your child tell you if he/she receives a harassing message. She/he should not respond to any message or post. The cyberbully wants you to respond.
- · Online services can block or ban options. You can prevent communication by blocking the bully’s e-mail address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts.
- · Talk to your phone and internet provider. They can provide additional privacy settings.
- · Report activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any websites they use to target your child.
It’s Important to:
· Save evidence of cyberbullying such as a screenshot of a web page. Report them to a teacher or school counselor
· Report threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyberbully’s actions can be prosecuted by law.
· Keep reporting every bullying incident. Although this is time-consuming, it’s a necessary step to stop the cyberbully.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
- 9 out of GLBT teens are victims of anti-gay bullying. (Gay, Straight Education Network)
- · More than 50% of GLBT students who took a P.E. class were bullied or harassed during that class. (Gay, Straight Education Network)
- · 28% of GLBT students will drop out of school. (About.com GLBT Teens)
- · Victims of bullying may suffer mental and general health consequences after bullying occurs. (Mental Health guidelines)
No wonder your GLBT child is dreading school. Here it is mid-August and that unsettled feeling has already invaded your household. He/she knows that anyone can be bullied, but chances are he will be targeted because he is perceived as “different” or vulnerable.
As parents, you want to protect your children from bullying. How can you help?
Here are some Tips:
- · Start now before school starts to practice anti-bullying strategies. Teach resilience!
- · It’s important to be specific in defining what bullying is: physical abuse, verbal taunting, online harassment or even passing along a hurtful message or rumor. (This is different from drama which is short-lived and over-reaction.)
- · Bullying is done on purpose.
- · Encourage friendships. If your child has many friends and appears to be popular, he’d be less apt to be targeted.
- · Promote self-confidence rather than self-pity. A humorous line such as “I don’t care what you’re saying about me. I have better things to do with my time” is off-putting to the bully. You child can then walk away with confidence.
- · Rehearse hypothetical situations in which a bully can taunt your child. Help your child come out with solutions in which she can stand up for herself.
- · Your child should know where to go for help at school – a trusted teacher, guidance counselor, principal. Role play on what she should say. Emphasize that this is not tattling.
- · Learn how bullying is handled in your child’s classroom, but don’t assume the teacher will “stick his neck out” for your child, particularly if he/she may be GLBT and worried about job safety.
- · Know your child’s school policies on bullying.
- · Be a good role model. How do you retaliate when you’re offended by someone? Be careful about what you say about people who are “different.”
- For more anti-bullying tactics, see my former blog post: http://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/Back-to-School Bullying
Next week, I’ll write about ways to combat insidious cyberbullying.