Have you ever wondered what happened to catch phrases such as “dude” or “sweet?” Long gone are the days of Zack Morris and Will Smith and phrases like these. In fact, kids these days are hosting 90’s themed parties where attendees have to dress up in the era just like the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s themed parties of yesteryear. Are you feeling dated yet? Well, just like jean jackets have left the racks, so has the vernacular associated with the times. Parents often struggle to learn the language of their growing children and parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) children are facing even more difficulty where the lingo is directly related to their child’s growing identity.
To understand the particulars of the language associated with the LGBT community, parents should be aware of the resources available to them. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) offers a free to download tool kit from www.glsen.org that gives parents and teachers instructions on how to create safe spaces and become allies. The kit also includes a glossary of LGBT terms that parents and children can go over together to find the terms that best fit them. Parents can and should utilize these resources to educate and empower themselves as they learn about the evolving terminology of the LGBT community.
Another great resource is the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health” section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found at www.cdc.gov. The CDC provides great information about how teachers, youth, educators, friends, and family members can understand more about the needs of LGBT youth. While there are many “go-to” guides to help parents understand the needs of LGBT youth, the most important thing to remember is that LGBT youth need acceptance and support. It is hard enough being a teenager in today’s times with cyberbullying, social media pressures, texting wars and other tough digital encounters. However, what compounds the difficulties that come with growing up LGBT is when parents do not express their acceptance and support.
Of course, if your child says something along the lines of “I think I may be gay,” you don’t need to have all the answers right away, but it is important to always make your child feel safe and secure without judgment. If you are not familiar with what to do, how to talk to your children about issues such as this, or if you have questions, you should do your homework. With all the resources available to parents online and with mental health professionals, it’s easier than ever to get the answers you need to your questions and to learn how to support your children in the best way possible. Just remember that no matter what happens, the best thing you can do is be a source of support and not criticism for your child as they grow and explore who they are as a person.
Keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage for a child to openly discuss the fact that they may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or even to openly question their sexuality. So always be kind with your words and be there for them. Take the time to learn about your child’s interests and needs, and learning the language of issues they may be dealing with is a great first step. Hammond Psychology & Associates, P.A. is a private practice in Brandon, Florida dedicated to helping children, teens, families, and adults. www.HammondPsychology.com