It can be difficult to accept that your child who you thought you knew so well is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Many parents have concerns when their child first comes out that they will experience bullying because of their sexual orientation and that they will not have the adulthood that they anticipated. Some parents and carers might fear they will never have grandchildren, even though many lesbian, gay and bisexual couples now have children. Some blame themselves, react angrily or disappointed.
It is important to remember that your child hasn't changed. The only thing that has changed is that you now know them a little better. Young people tell us that they are anxious about how their parents might respond to them coming out and this can affect how they feel about being lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Government actuaries estimate that six per cent of the population, around 3.6 million people, are lesbian, gay or bisexual. People realise that they are gay at different stages in their lives. So even if your child seems to have been straight in the past, it doesn’t mean they are now, or will be in the future. Similarly, one shouldn’t assume that a young person who identifies as bisexual is just in a phase and will later on be lesbian, gay or straight.
When a child comes out, parents and carers often have a lot of questions and many find it helpful to speak to other parents with gay children. There are organisations which offer that kind of peer support and sign post to further resources on their website.
When young people realise they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, they also have a lot of questions and will need access to information relevant to them to be able to make safe choices.
Parents and carers can make sure their child has access to good books and films which cover themes around sexual orientation and coming out. FIT is a film produced by Stonewall for young people aged 11 and above which deals with friendship, coming out and fitting in.
It is also important young people have peers and adults they feel they can talk to about being gay. Parents and carers can use Stonewall's searchable What's in my area database to find local community groups and support services.