Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are just like heterosexual teens in that they will get crushes, probably date, and hopefully learn a little about themselves in the process. They will discover more about how to function in romantic relationships and what they want in a partner. The feelings, desires, and heartbreak they may encounter are exactly the same that a heterosexual teen would encounter.

However, there will be some differences in their romantic lives, and often parents are not sure how to negotiate these differences.

A big question that often comes up for parents is friendships versus relationships. While your average 15-year-old boy is unlikely to ask if a girl can sleep over (although some do), a gay teen may have many friends of the same sex whom he sees without supervision, talks to behind closed doors, or asks to spend the night in his bedroom. Does that have to change if you now know your teen is attracted to the same sex?

If you trust your teen to be honest with you about their relationships, set some ground rules. Let them know that if they’re romantic with somebody, you want to meet that person, and you want them to be honest about the nature of their relationship. Discuss your rules: no overnights with a romantic partner, no being in the room with the door closed, etc. (You may be fine with them spending the night, or unsupervised time, with a romantic partner; if so, there is less negotiating to do.)

Tell them you will trust them to comply with these ground rules, and to tell you which peers they apply to. Talk about consequences if they do choose to break the rules. Get their input and work with them.

If you don’t trust your teen, examine why. Have they broken your trust in the past? Have they shown a pattern of being irresponsible? Does your gut tell you that they might try to do something dishonest? If they don’t have your trust, how can they regain it? It’s very important that all of this is communicated to them openly. Make sure that your reservations come from your teen, and not from discomfort around their sexual orientation. If you’re in doubt, talk to someone you trust to be fair and insightful about this situation.

Another vital component  of helping your teen stay safe, healthy, and sane through teenage dating is talking to them about safer sex. This includes abstinence; many gay teens choose to wait to become sexually active.  Talk with your teen about your values and hopes for them when it comes to romantic relationships. This is the same talk I hope any parent would have with their kid about sex, gay or straight.

Sometimes when the talk comes to safer sex, parents aren’t quite sure what to advise for gay, lesbian, or bisexual teens.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than men who have sex with only women. It’s very important that MSM use condoms with each sex act, consistently, with no exceptions. Look here  for more detailed information. Don’t avoid discussing pregnancy prevention, as young men who identify as gay may have sexual contact with women as well.

Sex acts between women carry less risk of acquiring STDs, but many women have interpreted that to mean there is no risk, and this is simply not the case. It’s important that they learn about how to keep themselves and their partner safe during sex. The University of Washington has a good website to start with.  Remember that lesbian-identified teens may actually have a higher pregnancy rate than heterosexual teens; many do have sexual contact with men and need to know how to protect themselves.

If you’re comfortable with it, look at these websites, or other resources, with your teen. You can learn about safer sex and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases together. If you want to go to the experts, make an appointment with a medical provider who you know to be knowledgeable about LGB health issues; your primary care provider may fit the bill.

What questions do you have about talking to your LGB teen about sex , or about sexual safety? What resources do you feel like you need?

 

Related Posts

Part 1: Finding Out

Part 2: Telling Others

Part 3: School

Second half of Part 4: Dating – Promoting Healthy Relationships

Part 5: Is This Just a Phase

First half of Part 6: Religion