Stateside: LGBT Parenting

Nov 19, 2012

A child's decision to discuss his or her sexuality with a parent is a defining moment.

A parent's reaction can have critical effects on the confidence and health of their child.

Author Anne Dohrenwend addressed the ways one should communicate with a homosexual child.

Her new book, “Coming Around: Parenting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Kids,” assesses healthy relationships between parents and their gay children.

Mike Neubecker of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) also spoke with Cyndy.

Dohrenwend referred to the recent trend of young adults coming out earlier in life. Doing so, she says, poses a set of risks and benefits for the child.

“Kids are coming out earlier. As a result, the younger people come out, the more prone they are to committing suicide. The good side of coming out early is they’re incorporating their sexual identity more completely and don’t hit a barrier with social development,” said Dohrenwend.

Neubecker recalled dealing firsthand with his son’s coming out; what was initially a confounding problem became an enlightening experience.

Dohrenwend, pleased with Neubecker’s story, further addressed positive ways of reacting to a child’s initial coming out.

“My advice would be to step back and simply say, ‘I love you and I’m proud of you.’ If you have a difference of opinion you have to recognize that that moment is not the time to deal with that issue,” said Dohrenwend.

When met with a considerate responses, a child’s coming out can lead to lifelong benefits.

“There have been recent studies that have found positive aspects of being gay. There is added courage and less concern about what other people think. There is a great sensitivity that can be learned about oppression,” said Dohrenwend.

“As long as people aren’t close-minded, they can evolve with it. A closed mind is an expensive thing,” said Neubecker.

Rejecting one's child is never the answer.

Instead, Neubecker suggests informing oneself about homosexuality; this knowledge, he suggests, can lead to acceptance.

“I’ve had parents say, ‘I love my kid, I just can’t accept this. They have to respect my position and I’ll respect theirs’. Love is a verb. If you really loved your kid, why wouldn’t you try to inform yourself?” said Neubecker.

-Cameron Stewart

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