How to Talk to Your Young Child About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
As a parent or caregiver, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality and gender identity can be awkward and embarrassing for both parties, however it is a necessary conversation to have.
When it comes to talking about different sexual orientations, children should be given age appropriate information so they can better understand themselves and empathize with others. Regardless of whether or not your child is LGBTQ+, having a conversation about LGBTQ issues will help reduce stigmatization and prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.
When to Talk
It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.
For young children, the age of 5 is a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them.
What to Say
For young children, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about same-sex relationships, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. When talking about gender identity, you can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. You can refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”
Children should understand the basic concept that even though people may be or look different than us, they are people just like we are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect.
You Don’t Have to Know Everything
Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child.
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