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How to Support Your Gay Child

Straight-from-the-heart advice for parents and grandparents who want to do the right thing.

"Now that I know my kid is gay, I'm concerned about same-sex sleepovers." Be a good parent. You don't get some special dispensation because you are traveling in uncharted waters. Don't be shy, ask the question: "What kind of sleepover is this?" If the idea of your daughter sleeping with her boyfriend under your own roof at the age of 16 sets off every bad parenting bell in the universe for you, hold your gay son or daughter to the same standards.

"I want to be sooo supportive — I've even got the date for Pride Parade on my calendar!" I joke with my partner about a teen we know. We're sure he would come out if only he didn't think his mom hadn't already submitted her résumé for an open position at PFLAG, which stands for Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Exuberance can be well intentioned, but teenagers kind of hate it in general.

"I was just settling into the gay thing and now she tells me she likes a boy." Teenagers are unpredictable and live in the world in a much more fluid way than we did at their age. I recently checked in with a friend about her gay high school senior. "How's she doing?" "Oh, I didn't tell you?" She put her head in her hands. "She's straight now." Sexuality is a pretty darned complex issue for teens to tackle. Just fasten your seatbelt and make sure your kid knows you are along for the ride.

"I really want him to meet some other nice gay people." It's time for a quick math lesson. Let's say it's a high school class of 250 kids. Let's assume 1 in 10 is gay. That's two dozen gay kids (25 less your own). Assume not all of them are out. Your kid is fishing in a very small pond. Gently nudge toward other ponds. Not just the Gay-Straight Alliance, although this is a great start. What about volunteering for a gay teen hotline or homeless shelter? There are options galore.

Next: What's best for your kid. »

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