Discussing gay & lesbian issues with kids

March 18, 2009 5:43:12 PM PDT
How to instill tolerance and acceptance in your children.

Important reminders for straight parents in discussing LGBT issues with children

  • How can I get support after a LGBT loved one has come out to me?
    A good national resource for straight parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children is PFLAG. They offer local support and education all across the country. Members in PFLAG chapters know what you're going through and can help. Whatever your reaction, remember that your loved one is sharing one part of his/her identity with you and is ultimately the same person as yesterday.

  • How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?
    No one knows exactly how sexual orientation and gender identity determined. However, experts agree that it is a complicated matter of genetics, biology, psychological and social factors. For most people, sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age. It is never anyone's "fault" if they or their loved one grows up to be LGBT.

  • Is there something wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
    No. There have been people in all cultures and times throughout human history who have identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Homosexuality is not an illness or a disorder. Being LGBT is as much a human variation as being left-handed - a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are just another piece of who they are. There is nothing wrong with being LGBT - in fact, there's a lot to celebrate.

  • Can gay people change their sexual orientation or gender identity?
    No - and efforts to do so aren't just unnecessary - they're damaging. Religious and secular organizations do sponsor campaigns and studies claiming that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation or gender identity because there is something wrong. The Center believes that it is our anti-LGBT attitudes, laws and policies that need to change, not our LGBT loved ones.

  • Should I talk to a loved one about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity before the person talks to me?
    It's seldom appropriate to ask a person, "Are you gay?" Your perception of another person's sexual orientation (gay or straight) or gender identity (male or female) is not necessarily what it appears.

  • Can gay people have families?
    Yes! LGBT people can and do have families. Same-sex couples do form committed and loving relationships. In the United States many same-sex couples choose to celebrate their love with commitment ceremonies or civil unions, although these couples are not offered the rights and benefits of marriage. More and more LGBT couples are also raising children together, although state laws on adoption and foster parenting vary. And of course, many LGBT people have the support of the loving families they were born into, or the families that they have created with their other friends and loved ones.

  • How can I reconcile my or my loved one's sexual orientation with my faith?
    This is a difficult question for many people. Learning that a loved one is LGBT can be a challenge if you feel it is at odds with your faith tradition. However, being LGBT does not impact a person's ability to be moral and spiritual any more than being heterosexual does. Many LGBT people are religious and active in their own faith communities. It is up to you to explore, question and make choices in order to reconcile religion with homosexuality and gender variance. For some this means working for change within their faith community, and for others it means leaving it.

    Resources for Parents:

  • The most established resource for straight parents of LGBT or questioning youth is PFLAG with chapters in most communities across the country. Their website has a wealth of information at: http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=209.

  • Other good resources include the GLBT National Help Center http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org which offers an anonymous 1-800 help and information service.

  • A great book for parents of LGBTQ children is "Loving Someone Gay" by Donald H. Clark.

  • Recommended resources specifically for LGBTQ youth -- in addition to the Center -- include the Gay-Straight Alliance (http://www.gsanetwork.org) and LYRIC.

  • Recommended local resources for LGBT parents include Our Family Coalition (http://www.ourfamily.org) and COLAGE (http://www.colage.org) for their children.

    San Francisco LGBT Community Center Programs and Services
    Today the Center has active partnerships with over 70 community organizations. We host over 100 programs weekly and serve to over 9,000 individuals monthly. We provide leadership that brings the community together to work on issues of civil rights, public policy and community activism, tackling problems of discrimination, homophobia and disenfranchisement. Whether the occasion is a community celebration or mourning, such as passage of marriage equality or the murder of 15-year-old Larry King, the Center is the one place that the entire community gathers for support.

    Direct programming is designed to serve those community members most in need, including youth, job seekers, children and families, city newcomers, women and the transgender community. We have successfully piloted ground-breaking programs in economic development, health and wellness, and youth services. These services help ensure the survival of many members of the LGBT community, including those least able to find acceptance in mainstream culture. Programs areas include:

  • Economic Development. We pioneered programs to support sustainable employment and business practices for LGBT individuals and small businesses.

  • Health and Wellness. In addition to HIV/AIDS prevention and city newcomer programs, we provide over 10,000 information referrals each year, connecting individuals to over 500 regional LGBT services.

  • Children, Youth and Family. We provide childcare services to LGBT families six days a week. Over 300 youth annually receive leadership development, job training, queer youth prom, and for marginally housed youth, free meals.

  • Community and Policy Initiatives. We support several community-led initiatives, such as Center Women Present. We facilitate and lead local organizing around civic issues, such as marriage equality and employment protection.

  • Arts and Culture. 8 annual visual and performing arts showcases, as well as collaborations designed to increase the visibility of LGBT artists and public access cultural activities.

  • Building Facilities. Open six days a week, events range from 12-step meetings to town halls to readings and lectures. The Cyber Center provides free access to computer programs and the Internet. We are home to 13 LGBT nonprofits. Rental spaces serve groups ranging from 10 to 400 in size.

    San Francisco LGBT Community Center Youth Activities

  • Meal Night: Food, friends, and movies! Have dinner and a movie on us every Tuesday night at 5pm. Safer sex supplies, housing and employment referrals, and other services from partner organizations are available.

  • Creative & Performing Arts: Express yourself! Our creative and performing arts programs give you the supplies and tools to express yourself. Painting, photography, spoken word, or theatre-we have it all! Are you ready for your 15 minutes of fame?

  • Social Events: We host Queer Prom, field trips, and sponsor Gay-Straight Alliance meetings. We know how to party and provide opportunities for youth to network.

  • Youth Program Internships: We offer PAID part-time internships every year exclusively for youth. Plan youth social events and make friends! Develop the career and leadership skills you'll use the rest of your life. Recruitment starts each Fall.

  • Activism & Education: Empower yourself! Involvement at the Center connects you to our world and our issues. Whether you are interested in volunteering, community service, or the digital storytelling project, we provide opportunities for community action and education. Workshops

    Youth Resources

  • Services for youth 17 & younger (415) 865-5633
  • Services for young people 18-24 (415) 865-5560
  • Email: youth@sfcenter.org
  • Website: http://www.sfcenter.org/youth.php
  • MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/youthlgbt

    About Soiree 7, LGBT Community Center Fundraiser
    Step right up, ladies and gentlemen and help the San Francisco LGBT Community Center celebrate its seventh anniversary with Soiree 7! Enjoy a three-ring inspired evening of performances showcasing San Francisco's diverse community in support of an important San Francisco institution.

    Event: San Francisco LGBT Community Center presents Soiree 7
    Date: Saturday, March 28, 2009
    Hours: 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
    Location: Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St. (@ 1st St.), San Francisco
    Featuring: Performances by Boylesque, Bus Station John, Candi Gurl, Fauxnique, Fou Fou Ha!,

    Glamamore, Hoku Mama, Honey Soundsystem, House of Salad, Juanita, and more. Plus live and silent auctions, DJs and dancing, drinks and gourmet morsels.
    Tickets: $150 (all proceeds benefit the Center)

    Available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/55239 or by phone at (800) 838-3006.