The first thing to remember is that your child or teen has probably spent a lot of time thinking about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and about how to come out to you. They have opened up to you because they trust you, and want you to support them. Now it’s over to you to handle this situation in the best way that you can.
Your first reaction might be to feel shocked or upset. You might feel like it’s not a big deal, or that you already knew. It’s important to take a moment to think about what you say and how this might impact your child or teen’s emotions.
Even if you’re not sure how you feel, it’s important to say something supportive to your child or teen. This way, they will feel more comfortable talking to you about their identity in the future. You can tell your child or teen that you love them no matter what, and that you are proud of them. You can also ask how they’re feeling, what they need at this time, and if they have friends they can also talk to about their identity.
Remember that being LGBTQ+ is not a ‘lifestyle choice’. Your child or teen’s sexual orientation or gender identity is part of them. They are the same person, you have just learned something new about a big part of who they are.
Nothing you did, or didn’t do, made your child LGBTQ+. You can’t change how someone identifies, but you can support them and help them to be as happy and safe as possible.
Even if you feel this way, you should try not to tell your child or teen that you think they’re going through a phase, that they’re too young to know, or that you are disappointed in them. You should also try to avoid questions that might be hurtful for your child or teen, such as “Why did you need to tell me?”, “What did I do wrong”, or “What will people think?”. Even jokes that are well-meaning, like “So I won’t have grandchildren” or “What took you so long to know?”, can be upsetting for someone who has taken the brave step of coming out to you.
If someone comes out to you, remember that they decided to open up to you because they trust you. You should always ask your child or teen if it is ok to tell other people about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and respect their decision if they say no. They will come to you when they are ready to tell more people, or when they are comfortable with you telling others.