Supporting your child

"I can't tell anyone because, basically no-one knows that I am gay... I got punched in the corridor today for example, and I can't tell the teacher because it will involve coming out."
Nick, 14, secondary school (Wales)   

Coming out

It can be difficult to accept that your child who you thought you knew so well is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Many parents have concerns when their child first comes out that they will experience bullying because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, 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 people now do 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, bisexual or transgender. 

There are millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. People realise that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 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 heterosexual now, or will be heterosexual 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 heterosexual.

Information and advice for parents and carers

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 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender children. There are organisations which offer that kind of peer support and sign post to further resources on their website.

  • Parents Enquiry Scotland
    Provides help, information and support for parents and families of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children (LGBT) children, with helplines run by parents of LGBT children
  • ParentLine Scotland
    A free, confidential, parent support helpline for anyone caring for a child in Scotland
  • Families and friends of lesbian, gay and bisexual people (FFLAG)
    A volunteer organisation supporting parents and their lesbian, gay and bisexual daughters and sons
  • Mermaids 
    A support group for children and teenagers with gender identity issues and their families
  • Parenting Channel TV 
    A film clip for parents on supporting their lesbian, gay or bisexual child
  • ParentlinePlus
    A helpline and website for parents with information on a series of issues including bullying 

Information and advice for young people

When young people realise they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, they also have a lot of questions and they will need access to information relevant to them to be able to make safe choices. 

Parents and carers can ensure 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.

Parents and carers can also work with the school to ensure homophobic bullying is prevented and tackled and their child is supported and receives the information they need.

For more information e-mail us at education@stonewallscotland.org.uk or call our free information line 08000 50 20 20.  

 


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