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Frequently asked questions from Parents & Family

FAQs from Parents and Familys

The following information is taking from the booklet "Someone You Love".

 

Why did they have to tell me?

Some families believe they may have been happier not knowing. They start to recall the time before they knew as ‘problem free’, remembering an ideal situation rather than the reality.

Sometimes we can try to deny what is happening by rejecting what we’re hearing (“it’s just a phase; you’ll get over it”); by shutting down (“If you choose that lifestyle I don’t want to hear about it”); or by dismissing or not registering the impact of what we’re being told (“that’s nice dear, and what do you want for dinner?”).

 

Parents and family may feel resentment towards their loved ones’ sexuality. This feeling is based on the belief that to be gay, lesbian, trans* or bisexual was a conscious decision. Being GLBTQ is not a choice or decision people make. The main decision most GLBTIQ people have to make is whether to be honest about who they are or hide it. Hiding it imposes a tremendous burden. A large part of their life would be kept secret from you, and you would never really know them. While people may experiment for some time with their sexuality and/or gender, someone who has reached the point of telling their family that they are LGBTQ is not usually someone who is going through a phase. Generally they have thought long and hard to understand and acknowledge their sexual orientation or gender identity. Telling family they think they are LGBTQ involves overcoming a great many negative stereotypes and often taking a great risk, and few would take that step lightly or prematurely.

What did we do wrong

Some parents and family members experience feelings of guilt when they first find out about their child of family member’s sexuality or gender. However there is no evidence that different parenting styles or family situations have a bearing on the development of sexual orientation or gender Dysphoria. Families can however provide an environment in which young people can understand and be true to themselves and strive to reach their full potential.

Why didn’t they tell us before

You child or loved one has probably been confused or unsure and thinking about this for months or even years. This does not mean they don’t trust or love you, nor is it a reflection on your relationship. If you’re a parent or family member it can be painful to realize that you don’t know your child as well as you thought you did and that you may have been excluded from a part of their life. To some extent, this is true in all parenting and family relationships, regardless of sexuality.

Gay, lesbian, trans* and bisexual people often recognize at an early age that they feel ‘different’, but it may take years before they can put a name to it or feel sure about things. It’s often not until this stage that they consider telling someone.

 

Even though you may have some sadness for not having been able to help your child or loved one through that period, understand that your child or loved one probably could not have told you any earlier. More importantly, them doing so now is an invitation for a more open and honest relationship.

Why am I uncomfortable with my loved one’s sexuality or gender?

Our culture and society gives us messages about many things, including sexuality, sex and gender. The negative messages or myths we have learned from our society about these are very strong and not easy to dismiss. However developing a better understanding of your loved one and becoming more familiar with the issues will help reduce these uncomfortable feelings. Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia are a very strong part of our culture and is similar to many other forms of discrimination and prejudice. As long as prejudice exists on our society LGBTIQ people and their families may have very real and legitimate fears and concerns.

Could a counsellor or therapist be helpful?

Support for family members who are coming to terms with their loved one’s sexual orientation or gender diversity can be gained from a counselor or therapist trained in the area of sexual or gender diversity (check out our Support and Mental Health sections for some that FC recommends). You may want to talk about your own feelings and how to work through them. It may help you and your loved one communicate clearly through this period.

Young people who have acknowledged their attractions to the same gender, or who have acknowledged their true gender identity can still have feelings of depression, fear and isolation, and may need help with self-acceptance.

Consulting a counselor or therapist in the hopes of changing your loved one’s sexual or gender diversity has little value. The Australian Psychology Association asserts it can be harmful to the individual to do so, and that homosexuality is not a disorder and is not something that can be changed through conversion therapies.

 

Check out our Info section for more information about Sexuality, Gender, Discrimination, Mental Health, Support and more.

Will they be rejected, have trouble finding or keeping a job, or be attacked?

Our society often discriminates and is even violent towards people who are seen to be different. However, attitudes towards LGBTIQ people have been slowly changing for the better and are more positive in many places. There are a growing number of groups who are working for such change and who are ready to help those who have difficulties.

 

It is important to remember that many LGBTIQ people have grown to fulfill their dreams and have become very successful and respected people in the community. As a society we may have a long way to go, but giving your loved one support and love will go far to making their journey easier.

Will my loved one be lonely in their old age if they do not have a family of their own?

LGBTIQ people do develop long lasting relationships and friendships. Long time gay and lesbian couples become a family through their commitment and lives together. Many LGBTIQ people have children through a variety of means.

What about HIV/AIDS or other STIs (Sexually Transmissible Infections)

All people and communities face the threat of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is not a gay men’s disease. No virus is that smart! It is the activities that a person practices that place them at risk of contracting HIV or other STIs. Therefore, every person should be concerned about STIS, including HIV/AIDS – regardless of their sexuality, age or any other factors. Everyone should learn how STIs and HIV are transmitted and how they can protect themselves.

 

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. It can be transmitted by engaging in unsafe sex (without a condom and lubricant or other methods for safer sex), sharing needles, or from mother to child through breast milk or birth. Practicing safe sex and not sharing needles is the best way to protect ourselves from HIV and other blood-borne viruses.

Is it a sin?

For some families, this may be a difficult issue to face. For others it’s a non-issue. We each have our own religious or spiritual beliefs. Most religions and churches have members with a range of views and interpretations of their faith. A number of religious organizations support equal rights for LGBTIQ people, other don’t.

How can I support my loved one?

Finding information like on this website is a great first step to supporting your loved one. You have shown that you are open to new information and hopefully are better informed. Every young person needs different things from their family. Some parents find that they are better able to understand and support their child by recognizing the similarities and differences in experiences. You can support your loved one by educating yourself and others around you as much as possible about sexuality, gender and diversity.

Young people realize that LGBTIQ people are condemned by society. Even before they reach the kindergarten playground, they learn negative words for LGBTIQ people. Young people generally assume that all the people they know are heterosexual; they have no idea that some of the respected adults around them are LGBTIQ. Many LGBTIQ young people feel isolated and like they are the only person that feels like this. Some are harassed or abused by peers, family members, school & agency personnel and others. Whether or not they are labeled by others young people often;

  • Fear being discovered and expect rejection;
  • Carefully guard their feelings to maintain acceptance (or merely to survive);
  • Have no opportunity openly to date each other or flirt or engage in sexual experimenting like other teens; and
  • Lack of accurate and relevant information about their feelings and experiences.

Feeling marginalize or stigmatized in society can lead to some young people becoming depressed or even suicidal. In fact, research indicates that same sex attracted and gender diverse young people experience far higher rates of suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as other mental health related issues. This is a direct result of feeling isolated, rejected, marginalized and stigmatized.

Education about LGBTIQ people is an important step in being able to support young people and to prevent and reduce suicide and mental health issues. Avenues need to be created to help young people develop positive self-esteem and skills to deal with a sometimes hostile and usually challenging environment. These young people need;

  • Supportive opportunities to socialize with one another;
  • Resources that specifically address their concerns; and
  • Sensitive, non-judgemental help as they come to understand themselves.

Freedom Centre aims to meet these needs in the following ways;

 

  • Our safe social space for young people to hang out, meet others with similar experiences to theirs, and feel OK being themselves;
  • We provide accurate and relevant information through our website, email, phone, courses, community information stalls, and at the drop-in centre to both young people and their families, friends and professionals that support them.
  • We provide referrals to other LGBTIQ-friendly support services.

Check out our Support section or contact us for more info.