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Parenting, sexual orientation and gender identity

Supporting and accepting your young person’s sexual orientation is important to their wellbeing. There are a number of practical things that you can do to support your young person.

How should I respond if my teenager has told me they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)?

You may have many questions and experience a huge range of emotions including fear or grief. The important thing to remember is that your child/tamaiti is still the same person they were before they told you about their sexuality.

It may be difficult to accept that your child is gay, lesbian or bisexual and this is not surprising given myths such as that homosexuality is caused by bad parenting. This is untrue. Sexual orientation is simply part of who someone is.

Your young person may have known for some time that they are not straight and may have struggled to “come out” to you. They have been brave and honest telling you about their sexuality, even though they may have been afraid of your reaction.

What can I do to support my teenager?

Accepting your young person’s sexual orientation will help their well-being. This support can increase their self-esteem, improve their health and protect them against substance abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts.

There are some practical things you can do to support your young person:

  • support their gender expression and talk with them about their LGBT identity
  • believe they can have a happy future as an LGBT adult
  • bring your young person to LGBT organisations or events and connect them with LGBT adult role models to show them options for the future
  • welcome their LGBT friends and partner to your home and to family events and activities
  • talk to other family members so they respect your LGBT young person
  • work to make your faith community supportive of LGBT members or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your young person and your family.

Are there any support groups available?

The websites below have information and contact details you might find useful.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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