All Articles in the Category ‘LGBTQ’

Transgender Teens, Part 2: Defining Gender Further

Go into any U.S. toy store. There are toys for boys, and toys for girls. Go to a clothing store, and there is a women’s and a men’s section. Go to a university, and there are fraternities for boys and sororities for girls. Our society is based on two genders, and since there are two biological sexes (see my prior post in which I clarify that this is a great simplification), that’s the way it is everywhere. Right?

In fact, there are numerous societies and cultures in which gender is not binary (male or female). On almost every continent there are examples of biological men taking on a feminine gender, or biological women taking on a masculine gender, or a class of people recognized as both genders, or something else completely different. This is a fascinating interactive map that takes us across the world looking at the way different societies interpret gender (the Bugi of Indonesia recognize five genders!) We’re not just talking small, isolated tribes; people have recognized more than two genders in Italian, Indian, and Native American societies.

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Transgender Teens, Part 1: The Basics of Sex and Gender

When I first started writing the blog series on “Parenting LGB Teens,” a lot of people asked, “Where’s the T?” T, in this acronym, stands for transgender, and I decided to keep it for a separate series. Our knowledge of transgender health, challenges and treatment is relatively new, and many people are less familiar with transgender issues than with gay/lesbian/bisexual issues. This series will focus on transgender issues in general, and transgender adolescents in particular.

Before we discuss transgender, we have to discuss gender. And to discuss gender, we have to discuss biological sex.

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Parenting Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens, Part 7: Useful Resources

There is a world of wonderful resources out there for parents and families of LGB teens, and for LGB teens themselves. I’ve linked to some of them from my posts, but I wanted to give a few more. They all support transgender teens as well, which is convenient, since next week I will be starting on the series “Transgender Teens.” Read full post »

Parenting Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Teens, Part 6: Advice from Religious Leaders

In my last post, I promised you advice from religious experts. I am so grateful that four Seattle religious leaders took time out of their busy schedules to give views and advice on different aspects of the spiritual and religious questions that arise when LGB teens come out to their parents. I can’t thank them enough for the wisdom and hope of their words, and I hope you find these videos as fascinating and inspiring as I did!




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Parenting a Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Teen, Part 6: Religion

This is a hard post to write. I consider myself at least somewhat of an expert on adolescents, but I am hardly an expert on religion. However, for religious families, there can be important issues that arise after their teen comes out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

There are gay, lesbian, & bisexual- friendly organizations and places of worship for almost all major U.S. religions, including Christianity (Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal , Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and many others), Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Mormonism. If your faith is important to you, and your teen comes out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, hopefully you are already worshiping at a place that is welcoming- or at least tolerant- of your teen’s sexuality. Problems begin when your tradition, congregation, or religious leader is not. You might be faced with demands that your teen change, that you change your teen, or that someone else have the chance to change your teen. They may threaten your teen with eternal damnation, a miserable life, or alienation from their spiritual tradition and community.

No matter what anybody tells you, you do have options, and you and your teen can work together to decide together what path you will head down. Read full post »

Parenting Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Teens, Part 5: Is This Just a Phase?

One feeling parents of LGB teens often struggle with is the suspicion, hope, or fear that their teen’s sexual orientation is simply a phase that will pass. If your teen has gone through phases of intense identification with a certain group or idea before, it can be worrying to think that your family is coping with this when your teen’s sexuality itself might be just a phase. Last year they were mooning over Justin Bieber, defending political anarchy, and planning on a career in music. This year they’re into Led Zeppelin, the Democratic party, and a future working in finance. Is their sexuality going to follow the same pattern?

The reason why teens can feel strongly, but fleetingly, affiliated to different groups, music, etc., is they are discovering their identity. Things will feel right or wrong for who they are, and they will incorporate what resonates with them into the young adult they are to become. Sexual orientation is not a rock band, but it’s not set in stone either.

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Parenting Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teenagers, Part 4: Dating- Promoting Healthy Relationships

I was going to only have one post on dating, but there’s so much to cover. Welcome to Part 2 of Part 4! This post is kind of a catch-all for some other common questions parents have when their LGB teen starts dating. The main focus is on ways to ensure that your teen has healthy dating experiences (or at least give it your best shot.)

Sometimes parents feel more hesitant to discuss romantic issues with LGB teens. They may feel like they have less relevant experience, are less familiar with LGB issues, or their teen will care less about what they have to say. But so much about romantic relationships- including a lot of your wisdom and experience- is universal. Your teen does care what you have to say (whether they seem to or not), and they need your love, support, and guidance.

Here are some common questions that parents of LGB teens have, and answers- or at least ideas- to think about.

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Parenting Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Teens, Part 4: Dating- Sleepovers & Sexual Safety

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?

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Parenting Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Teens, Part 3: School

One of the main worries many parents have after their child comes out is the reaction of their peers (and even the adults) at school. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens- or those perceived as such- are bullied more than heterosexual teens. The idea of a teen coming out and exposing themselves to verbal, emotional, and even physical harassment is very frightening for those love them and want to protect them.

Schools vary greatly in their attitudes towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens. Some school atmospheres are very accepting, and teens with any sexual orientation find it easy to find friends and thrive. Others are more intolerant and homophobic. Your teen will likely know what the environment of their school is. Whether or not they want to come out at school depends on many factors: the school atmosphere, their own drive to come out, initial responses from close friends, etc. They may feel strongly that they want to come out, even if they are expecting harassment from peers, and that is their decision… but it still bears talking about, and planning reactions to any negative attention beforehand.

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Parenting Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Teens, Part 2: Telling Others

So your teen came out to you, and you have reacted to their news. Now what do you do? Do you mention it if they don’t bring it up again? Do you encourage them to come out to other family and friends? Do you talk about it at the dinner table?

This will all depend on your teen and their comfort level, but it’s a good idea to get an idea of who they plan to communicate this to. This can range from keeping it a secret between the two of you for a while, to their posting their new sexual orientation on Facebook for friends and family to see.They may have already told close friends or other family; don’t feel disappointed if they didn’t come to you first. If they waited a bit, this may simply mean that your reaction is very important to them, and they wanted to see how others reacted first.

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