How parents can support their queer kids after “Don’t Say Gay”
By Christine Siamanta Kinori
With relentless legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ students, it’s natural to have questions, concerns, and anxieties when you drop your queer kid off at school. Now more than ever, it is critical for parents to listen to their child about what’s going on in the classroom. It can be difficult to navigate these devastating new laws and discuss what it all means– here are 5 ways parents can support their queer child during this difficult school year.
- Listen to their concerns about the changes they are experiencing in school
First and foremost, it is critical to listen to your child’s concerns and let them air out their feelings on the changes being made in their schools. Let them tell you specifically how much it is affecting them and encourage them to be honest if they are having a hard time because of bullies or being alienated from some school programming. It may not seem like all that much, but it goes a long way to have someone just listen. In most cases, the parent needs to take the lead and initiate these conversations. It can be upsetting to find out your kid is being bullied but calm down before taking any action. Reach out to a teacher, guidance counselor, or school administrator and follow up on the steps they are taking to stop the bullying.
- Assure them of your love
It is a known fact that LGBTQ+ adolescents who are supported by their families grow up to be happier and healthier adults. Now more than ever, you need to remind your kid that being queer doesn’t change your love for them. Home needs to be their haven where they can authentically express themselves. Keep assuring them that they are loved and that you will continue to support them through these trying times. You don’t need to be an expert in all things LGBTQ+ to let them know you care. Just be present and open.
- Get them help if they need it
Most of these homophobic laws being passed can negatively impact your child’s mental health. These anti-LGBTQ+ laws are harsh and cruel and alienate LGBTQ+ students. It can all be mentally overwhelming and stressful to be in school where the environment is meant to intentionally exclude you and deny your existence. As a parent, be on the look-out for signs that your child is getting depressed. It is okay to seek professional help.
- Educate yourself on these laws and what they mean for your child
These anti-LGBTQ+ laws are being proposed and passed at an alarming rate and it can be difficult to keep up. It is different for every state and as a parent, it is better to be armed with information. It will also help you know how to campaign and raise awareness against these harmful bills. Understanding the extent these laws will impact your queer child will also help you understand how to best support your child. The only way to fight back is to educate yourself and speak out in protest against these laws.
- Find your community
It can be overwhelming to navigate all of this by yourself. You are not alone. There are other parents going through the same questions, anxieties, and fears every time they drop their queer kids off at school. Fear can be paralyzing, and it helps to talk to someone who understands exactly how angry and scared you feel as a parent to a queer kid. It also helps to have support for yourself. You can share experiences and find solutions together. You don’t need to figure everything out on your own. There is also power in numbers, and it helps to come together and fight against homophobic legislations in your respective states.