This article was published on April 17th, 2018
Many parents question when is the right time to educate their children about being gay. LGBT issues are not only complex, but have changed significantly just within the past decade, reflecting a new normal for the average child than a generation ago. This shift includes understanding the intricacies of the LGBT community and providing an open forum in which to discuss this changed landscape.
The proper age to discuss being gay is when children can understand the importance and value of love and friendships and mutual respect for other people. Start as early as possible and allow for future conversations as they mature. As much advice as you give, it is important also to listen to your child in order to better help them understand the subject. Answer truthfully, and if there is something you don’t know, be honest with them.
In situations like these, learning together can encourage dialogue in the future. There is nothing like an actual life experience to introduce new topics about being gay. The sooner it is discussed, the less likely the conversation is to be awkward.
Once it has begun, use a tone of voice that is consistent to other conversations you have so that it is not viewed as an issue. The more differences are discussed, the more acceptance becomes a part of the new normal that is created when these types of issues are considered regular parts of life. People come in varying colors, cultures, shapes, sizes, religions, and children should learn to accept them from all walks of life.
The LGBTQIA+ community comprises not only gay and lesbian people, but also pansexual, asexual, transgender, aromantic people, and more. From cis-gender and straight, support can come from all sides. They should understand that there is no gay ‘look’ and that sexual orientation doesn’t relate to a person’s femininity or masculinity. Curiosity in children is totally natural and they are of an age where healthy experimentation should begin. When children ask about the people and surroundings in their everyday lives, it is important to teach them how to be kind and respectful of others. Every one of us should be treated with acceptance and compassion.
By the age of 10, children should have a general idea about sexuality and what healthy interaction in men and women look like, no matter the orientation. Just as you would discuss someone’s hair or eye color, homosexuality and transgenderism should be an open topic for discussion.