When a child or young person tells someone they are LGBTQ+, it’s usually an indication that they trust the person and feel confident they will respond appropriately.
Remember that you may be the first person the child or young person has discussed their orientation or gender identity with. In the case of primary aged children, their parent or carer might be the first person to approach you about their child’s identity.
Children and young people coming out may worry about different things. For example, one person may be worried about the reactions of those around them, and another that their life will change as a result of being LGBTQ+. A bi young person may have different worries to a young gay or lesbian person, for example that others wrongly think being bi is just a phase. A trans young person may worry about whether people will use their correct name and pronoun, or whether they’ll be allowed to change their uniform.
For a trans child or young person, coming out may be the first step of their transition. A transition describes the steps a trans person may take to live in a way that fits with the gender they identify as (their gender identity). As part of their social transition a person may change their name and pronoun, or their appearance, but each person’s transition is unique. It is important not to make assumptions about what it will involve.
You should always maintain a child or young person’s confidentiality relating to their LGBTQ+ identity, unless there is a safeguarding concern. Some children or young people will already have come out to their parents or carers, or the parent or carer might have raised their child’s identity with you. Other children or young people may not be ready to come out to their parents or carers and it is important to respect this wish. Offer them support in talking to their parents or carers, if they would like it.
If a trans child or young person has already transitioned – perhaps at a previous school, college or setting – they might not feel a need to come out as trans. For some people, being trans is a part of their history rather than part of who they are now. It’s important to respect and protect the confidentiality of a child or young person who does not want to be identified as trans to others.
Providing relevant information
When children and young people realise or think they might be LGBTQ+ they often have a lot of questions. Providing accurate and reliable information will help your learners to make safe choices. All staff should feel confident providing timely information on a range of topics, such as coming out, sexual health, and staying safe online, and in pointing LGBTQ+ children and young people or their parents/carers to resources or organisations that can provide additional support.
In secondary schools and settings and in colleges, information should be made available in a range of ways, for example through leaflets on noticeboards, magazines, resource points and the school, college or setting website, so that all children and young people have an opportunity to access it. In primary schools and settings, as well as in special schools and settings, you are more likely to offer that support on a one-to-one basis. Make sure that your computer network’s firewall settings ensure that children and young people are able to access age-appropriate websites which could offer support. In particular you should check that the terms ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bi’ and ‘trans’ are not blocked.