advocateThis can be tricky for a parent of an LGBTQ child, especially one who is not completely out to their schools, peers and/or families.

As a parent, when you have a child who is totally out and you are totally out as a parent of an LGBTQ child, deciding when to advocate is different. Everyone knows so the fear of outing your child unintentionally is gone. The only real issue is whether or not your child wants you to advocate for them or wants to advocate for themselves. Their age will do a lot to determine that.

But suppose your child is not out and they are being bullied for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity? What then?

Bulling is never okay, no matter a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Advocating for your child is just that – advocating for a child, not necessarily an LGBTQ child. Is it necessary to reveal your child’s orientation or gender identity? I think a lot of advocacy can be done without revealing what doesn’t need to be revealed.

As parents, we want to do everything we can to ensure our child is safe in school and in their activities. How we do that can be very personal, depending on each families environment and circumstances. My son didn’t come out until he was an adult so he didn’t need me to advocate for him. And we didn’t live in the same city so it was a non-issue. However, I always wanted to make sure my son would be comfortable and accepted anywhere he was likely to go with me when he came to visit. Before I joined the synagogue I attend, I asked the attitude of the clergy and congregation’s on LGBTQ issues. I told the Rabbi I was speaking to I wouldn’t join any temple where my son was not completely welcome. Only later did I find out the Rabbi was gay! He never told me. He just assured me that everyone was welcome and accepted. That was all I needed to hear and it’s what I’ve experienced in my years as a member.

If your child is not out and you want information about an activity your child wants to participate in and you’re concerned, simply ask what the culture or policy is on LGBTQ issues because as a family, you want to be sure that all children will be welcome and appreciated for who they are. It isn’t necessary to reveal anything about your child.

And when you are dealing with an issue that calls for advocacy on your part, always remember you are advocating for your child. You would advocate for all your children the same so you don’t have to reveal anything you or your child wouldn’t be comfortable with.

Those of you with younger kids, what are you feelings about this? How have you handled it?