Every day in April, I’ll be posting a video about one of the questions in my guide, (Over) 100 Questions To Ask Your Kids About Sexuality. The guide is free and if you don’t have it, you can get it by clicking here.
If you have teenagers, I’d love it if you ask them this question: “What’s it like for gay/trans kids at your school?”
Gender and sexual diversity is part of the human experience. If your child identifies as lesbian, gay, trans, non-binary, bisexual, pansexual or someone other than a heterosexual cisgender person, this is a chance to open up a conversation about their what their daily life is like.
Asking shows that you care about their experiences and their well-being. Personally, I hope that things are going really well for your teen. But, if they aren’t doing so well, this is chance for you to find out how you can support them. I recommend asking “what can I do to help you?” Teens who are having a hard time, particularly if they’re being bullied or harassed, often feel a loss of control. Letting them take the lead and tell you what type of help they want can help them regain a sense of power.
Again, not all gay, trans and non-binary teens struggle. And those that do aren’t always struggling because of violence or aggression. They may be lonely, or struggling with how to present or express their identity in an authentic way. They could be wrestling with something that has nothing to do with their identity because ultimately they’re normal human beings and adolescence is just hard sometimes.
So if your teen reveals that things aren’t awesome, try not to make assumptions. Listen, let them know you’re on their side and ask what, if any, help they need from you.
My kid isn’t gay or trans so…
I encourage asking your teen this question, regardless of their identity. I think it’s really important for straight, cis kids to spend time thinking about experiences and realities beyond their own.
Talking about discrimination, inclusion, rejection and acceptance can make our kids more aware of the effect their behaviour might have on non-binary, trans and gay folks both at school and in the community at large. It also demonstrates that empathy, care and really basic human decency apply to everyone, not just people we perceive as being like us.
And yes, that is a value so let me own it. I believe that empathy, care and basic human decency apply to everyone. I really hope you do too!