There are many different ways in which parents respond to finding out that their child is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
* It can range from total acceptance with parents wanting to know more about what it is like for their child so that they can provide support and understanding.
*Some even join Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG) and challenge societal homophobia and transphobia.
* At the other extreme there are families who totally reject their child, throw them out of the family home and never speak to them ever again.
* There are parents who put down anything connected with homosexuality in the hope that this will stop their child being gay.
* Some go to extreme lengths to try and change their child, which is impossible. Take a look at this short video, Science and Homosexuality.
* The majority of parents initially respond with shock and horror, are fearful for themselves and their children, but eventually come round to some level of tolerance and/or acceptance.Parent's Stories
Here is a link to the story of how one mother loves and accepts her gay son. Family Acceptance Project - USA
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP), based at San Francisco State University, has conducted research with young LGBT people. They found that the response of parents to their child's sexual orientation/gender identity can make a huge difference in their child's vulnerability to self-harm, substance misuse and sexual health. Here is a link to a short video called Families Are Forever.
FAP have produced an excellent booklet for parents, "Supportive Families, Healthy Children." If your love your child and find out they are LGBT you should read this.Click here to download the booklet (and other publicatons). You will have to put in your email address and postcode so that FAP can contact you (by email) to ask you what you think of the publication.
You can also download A Practitioner's Resource Guide: Helping Families Support Their LGBT Children which FAP is published by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Here is a link to Caitlin Ryan talking about the need to work with parents to improve the outcomes for LGBT young people.LEAD with Love
Here is a link to a 35 minute video about four families talking about their child coming out. You will have to complete a survey to be able to see the film (this can be anonymous). You can also download briefings of simple things parents can do to support their children. Cross-racial Adoptees
The experiences of young LGBT people growing up are very similar to the experiences of young cross-racial adoptees. One difference is that many LGBT young people are unable to verbalise what is happening to them for fear that their parents will reject them.
Here is a link to extracts from Adopted, The Movie, in which Lynne Connor talks about how she felt growing up but not getting the support from her adopted parents that she would have liked.Parenting LGBT Children
IMPACT: The LGBT Health and Development programme have developed a series of videos. Click here to access them. What to do if your Child is being Bullied
The US Government have developed StopBullying.Gov website which includes advice and resources for parents of children who are being bullied. Click here to access the page. And here is a link to an article which identifies five things that parents can do to reduce the risk of suicide of their LGBT children. Out to the Family
Out to the Family is a series of six animated stories produced by the Leeds Animation Project. GALYIC worked with the Leeds Animation Project to produce this resource. Here are two of the stories: Click here for Sam's Story and here for Keiren's Story.
What GALYIC Members Said
During a discussion session, members came up with the following things they would like to say to their parents:
* Parents need to be comfortable with the sexuality of their children.
* Parents need to take on board the blatant homophobic bullying their children will experience and develop ways of supporting them through this.
* Young people should be able to talk to their parents who should be able to understand what they are going through; they need to be open-minded and accept their children for who they are.
* Parents should encourage their children to come to GALYIC and/or talk to someone who knows what they are going through and knows how to support them.
* It can be difficult too for parents who are seen as either homophobic or cool, even the most caring will need to come to terms with their child being gay; they should be made aware of websites and places that they can go for support.Coming Out
Parents need to go through a similar coming out process of accepting their child's sexual/gender orientation as the young people themselves have to; it is therefore important that you read the section on Coming Out.
Without support, many parents (like some LGBT people) remain stuck with internal beliefs that homosexuality is a perversion, against nature or their religion and simply cannot accept that their child is gay.Awareness Training for Professionals
Click here for a power point presentation which includes data from the GALYIC research. Here are the case studies referred to in the presentation. Free Awareness Training on YouTube
Click here to access free, in-depth, homophobia awareness training. Session 3c looks specifically at the Effects of Homophobia on the Parents of LGBTs.