Is parenting an LGBTQ child any different than parenting a straight, cisgender child? Yes and no, in my opinion.
LGBTQ children are children with all the same joys and challenges of growing up in today’s society. They go to school, some face learning disabilities, some are autistic, some have physical disabilities, some have emotional challenges – no different than their straight cis peers or siblings. As parents, we love them and protect them, teach them to become independent, to take care of themselves.
They become teenagers and many become rebellious and contentious. They go through puberty and all that entails with emotions running rampant. They talk back or don’t listen to us. This is true for all kids, whether LGBTQ or not.
And our LGBTQ kids face some challenges straight, cis children will never face. Bullying a child for being gay is not unique to the gay child. One’s perceived sexual orientation can be a cause for bullying as well. And bullying is not limited to being gay. I was bullied for wearing glasses, for being overweight. Some kids are just mean and will bully anyone they perceive as “weaker” or an easy target. And still, bullying seems to be more prevalent towards LGBTQ kids.
Is dating more difficult when a child is gay or lesbian? I don’t know. It sure wasn’t easy for me in high school. Kids today in many parts of the world are very open and not at all threatened by someone who is gay or lesbian. And in other parts of the world, a young gay or lesbian teen is not safe to be out and open about their sexuality and someone of the same gender.
The challenges facing transgender teens is something else that makes it different parenting. As parents of LGBTQ kids, we have to advocate for our kids in ways parents of straight, cis kids don’t. If we have trans kids, we have to be sure they are put on medications when appropriate. We have to go to court to change names and gender markers. Many of us act as buffers between our child and our extended families who don’t approve and don’t understand.
I think it’s important to remember that kids are just kids, whether they are LGBTQ or not. Sometimes we assign the LGBTQ label to behaviors that are just kid behaviors. Sometimes a teenager is just being a teenager!
My son wasn’t out when he was in school so these are just my thoughts. As the parent of an LGBTQ kid, what do you think?