A HEALTHY AND HAPPY LIFE
You have a child who has told you or you suspect is lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or in some other way different from the norm in terms of sexual attraction or gender presentation. You love your child and want to support them in their journey toward a healthy and happy adulthood regardless of how they identify. But you have questions about the unique vulnerabilities they face and want to learn more information, free of ideological agendas. Standard guides on parenting and sex education are geared to cisgender straight teens and fail to tell you what you need to know in dealing with your teenager. Wonderful organizations like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays – https://pflag.org) provide encouragement and support, but do not address certain difficult issues that may trouble you.
These young people are often classified as LGBTQ+, but for several reasons, we prefer to call them “rainbow kids.” As the prominent developmental psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams of Cornell University has recently documented(https://nyupress.org/9781479811434/bi/), young people today resist the traditional labels and are far more fluid and experimental in terms of sexual preference and gender presentation than they were when most of us were growing up. They recognize many different styles of combining gender traits that should not necessarily be considered “trans,” and even if they do not explicitly identify themselves as “bi-sexual,” they are more open to sexual and/or romantic attractions to partners regardless of gender.
We are a team of rainbow-supportive sex educators, clinical psychologists, academics, journalists, and sexual minority young people and have assembled the best information we can find from published scientific literature on a range of questions that parents like you are going to have. On controversial issues, we attempt to present opposing arguments in a balanced manner, while making it clear what we think the preponderence of evidence shows.
Every teen is unique, and no one knows yours better than you do. As parents, you are going to have to reach your own conclusions about what is in the best interest of your child. We aim to equip you with accurate, evidence-based information that will make it easier for you to discuss challenging issues with your developing teenager and other family members in a manner that is authoritative and fact-based, rather than emotional or judgmental.
You are invited to leave your own observations or questions in the comment feature at the end of each question and answer subsection. Other parents will benefit from hearing your perspective and experience.