CHILDLINE ADVICE: How parents can support children choosing to come out
When someone ‘comes out’ they tell other people about their sexuality or gender identity. For young people, this can be a challenging and confusing time, in fact, coming out was the top concern for LGBTQ+ young people contacting Childline about sexual and gender identity in 2018-19.
Many young people told our counsellors that they were worried about how their family and friends would react if they came out.
One young person told Childline:
“Coming out is one of the things that has frightened me most about my sexuality. I have a huge fear of anybody shunning me or not accepting who I am.”
If your child does ask to talk to you about their gender or sexuality, it’s good if you can give them your full attention. It might be very difficult for them to tell you so, if you can, try to be supportive and let them know that you are there for them.
It’s worth noting that some young people might not feel ready to come out until adulthood, and that’s ok.
If your child does come out, it can be a shock. You might not be sure how to respond. In this case, it might help to talk to friends and family who you are close to or who may have had similar experiences.
You might also worry that your child could be bullied or treated differently for coming out. Bullying someone because of their sexual identity is hate crime, and you can report this to the police. If it’s happening at school, talking to their teachers is another option. Throughout this, they’ll need your love and support, and to feel they can talk to you about it.
It’s useful to let them know that it’s not ok for anyone to treat them differently because of how they identify and that they can talk to you, or someone from Childline, if they experience anything that worries them.
Children can always use the moderated Childline message boards to talk with children who are experiencing similar things, and speak to a counsellor over the phone or online for advice.