(Posted on Facebook after the Orlando killings.)
Straight parents who are wondering if they can do something to help on this devastating day: Yes! You can explicitly normalize LGBTQ-ness to your children. If you’re not sure how, I have suggestions for every age and style! Please feel free to ask. I would love to talk to you about how to be comfortable. If you have any hesitation, I guarantee your kids will be chiller than you are. (I offered this on twitter yesterday and someone took me up on it–a wonderful conversation!)
It’s never too late or too early. Kids are ready to hear about love, about learning who you are. And they need to hear it from you, both so they know other people are okay, and so they know that THEY are okay if they are gay. Trust me, your daughter is no more likely to be “confused” about whether she’s gay than she is to be “confused” about whether she prefers a smaller allowance and an earlier bedtime. Your son is no more likely to be “confused” about whether he’s a girl than he is to be “confused” about whether he actually wants to pick up his room and finish his homework and take out the trash without being asked. Kids are who they are: this will not be the time when your slightest suggestion transforms them utterly. 🙂
The only thing you can confuse them about is whether you’ll love them, love their friends, love your neighbors, no matter who they are.
Here are just a few ways to teach your child to love, and teach them that they are loved no matter what:
1. Read them books, and later give them books, with well-represented LGBT characters.
2. When you imagine their future, use language like “if/when you fall in love with a man or a woman…”
3. Matter-of-factly identify LGBT families. If you would talk about a friend’s mom and dad, talk about someone else’s moms.
4. If you don’t know (or don’t know that you know) any trans people, learn and talk about public figures, or read books about them. “I Am Jazz” is a great picture book.
5. Never out trans people without their consent, but if you have a friend who’s okay with it, you can say, “X is a boy, but when he was born, many people thought he was a girl”.
6. Always offer your child the same options you respect in others.
These are all expressions of love. Your child NEEDS to learn this love, perhaps for others, perhaps to understand that you love THEM. I’ll be blunt: it’s easier than figuring out how to tell your kid that someone slaughtered fifty people who were dancing.