How do we raise LBGTQ allies?
We know boys are (still) subject to a lot of homophobia and transphobia. Our culture is full of messages that tell boys it’s best to be straight and stereotypically masculine. And though many of us think we’re raising our boys to tolerant, inclusive, and accepting, they may be getting a different message from what we don’t say.
Chris Tompkins, author of Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent’s Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground, recognized the power of unspoken messages when his then 6-year-old nephew asked him — an openly gay man — if the female friend with him was his girlfriend. In that moment, Chris realized that his nephew didn’t know he was gay. In conversations with adult family members the next day, Chris learned that most believed that his nephew wasn’t “old enough to understand.” Others said they didn’t know how to discuss homosexuality and heterosexuality with their children.
The reality, Chris says, is that there may be LGBTQ kids in our families right now. And when we don’t acknowledge that — by, for instance, not talking about homosexuality — “we’re contributing to the continuation of the closet, which is a hot bed for shame,” Chris says.
Most of us didn’t have these conversations with our parents. We can do better for our kids.
In this episode, Jen & Chris discuss:
- How adults’ lack of conversation about homosexuality perpetuates stigma and shame
- Talking to about sex & sexuality at developmentally appropriate levels
- How seemingly innocuous questions & comments — “Do you have a girlfriend yet?” “Wow, I bet all the girls are after you!” — can contribute to shame and silence
- Subconscious beliefs we (and our kids) pick up from the dominant culture
- Repair & reconnection
- Validating kids’ perceptions
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
What Children Learn from the Things They Aren’t Told — Chris’s TedX talk
ARoadTripToLove.com — Chris’s website
Why Inclusive Sex Ed is So Important — article by Jen
Need help with your boys?
Opt-in at Boys Alive! for your free guide: Boys & Big Emotions with Janet