Lately, our family has been dealing with a lot of questions about transgender issues and LGBTQ awareness.
I write for a local LGBT + Ally magazine. My kiddos find LGBTQ and identity conversations to be healthy, but it didn’t happen by accident. My partner and I have made it a point to discuss LGBTQ issues with our children. We want them to have the facts they need to make good decisions and be good citizens.
If you’re interested in raising children who are sensitive to the needs of the LGBTQ community, this blog post is for you!
Five Way You Can Raise An LBTQ Ally
An ally is someone who advocates for their friends, family members, and the community.
1. Don’t Assume What Your Kids Do or Do Not Know
Ask them! As a parent, I have instilled in my children the values I hold dear. But how do we know our words are sinking in? We have regular conversations. There’s always room to ask questions. We clarify things they don’t understand or have heard from another source (I’m looking at you, YOUtube).
Sure, it’s a little uncomfortable to strike up a convo on tough topics. See if you can find ways to incorporate LGBTQ awareness into regular activities.
Heck, what’s an LGBTQ ally? FYI: It’s someone who supports the civil rights of the LGBTQ community.
2. Be Blunt! Your Kids Can Handle It
Any school-age child knows feedback isn’t always nice and warm. Peers and some of their teachers likely haven’t mastered the skill of being kind all the time. While I praise my daughter’s leadership and organization skills, her peers tell her she’s “bossy.” When I point out my son’s mensch-like qualities, he hears a “goody-two-shoes” jab by a classmate.
“These are often difficult topics to broach, and speaking frankly with your child about sex and sexuality does not come naturally to most people. Your child will pick up on and respond to your level of comfort with the topic.” – NYU School of Medicine, Child Study Center
The practice won’t make perfect, but that’s ok! Your kids are bound to throw you a million curveballs in life, and this might be one of those times. Stay true to your values and be an LGBTQ ally. Because trying to be a good person is what matters.
3. Be on the Lookout for Reinforcing Stereotypes (and fix them!)
Now, I know that everyone reading this blog is as progressive and open-minded as the best of ‘em, but you’re likely carrying around some subconscious prejudice. LGBTQ awareness is about checking in with our oh-so-enlightened selves to make sure we aren’t inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes in the ways we talk, act, and move through life with our children.
For example, I use gender-neutral language with my kids when we talk about things like dating, marriage, and relationships. Instead of referring to my daughter’s potential future partner as “he,” I use “they.” I also say, “Whoever you decide to marry” instead of “Whoever your husband is.” A friend of mine recently shared with me that whenever she started dating someone new, her mother would say, “So, tell me about him or her!” Even though it was embarrassing for her at the time (and there never was a “her”), it let my friend know that her mom was supportive – and an LGBTQ ally.
It’s also important that pejoratives like, “that’s so gay!” or calling someone “homo” are anti-LGBTQ. LGBTQ awareness fights back against these stereotypes!
Even if your kids don’t use that language, they are exposed to it at school or elsewhere in the community.
4. Start Reading
5. Get Involved in Your LGBTQ Community
Whatever you do, promise me you won’t put tough topics on the back burner. I know you can do this.