What does it mean to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender?

There are some terms and expressions which you may or may not be familiar with. Understanding what is meant by these expressions will help you understand what your child may be going through.

Sexual Orientation: This is about who we are attracted to, physically and emotionally.  People who are attracted to those of the opposite gender are Heterosexual; people who are attracted to those of the same gender are Lesbian or Gay and individuals who are attracted to people of either gender are Bisexual.

Gender Identity: This is our internal feeling of being a man or woman. Gender Expression: This is about how we show our identity to the world (e.g. clothes, hairstyle, mannerisms). Transgender is the umbrella term used for anyone whose Gender Identity and/or Gender Expression don’t always match the gender they were assigned at birth.

Remember that this is not a “lifestyle choice”; this is the nature of your child. Your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is inherent and nothing you did, or didn’t do, created this identity.  People are born with an inherent sexual identity in exactly the same way they might be predisposed towards art or music or sports and you cannot change it, but you can support them and help them to accept themselves for who they are.

The most common age that young people know they are LGBT is when they are 12. Try to avoid suggesting it might be a phase or that your child might be too young to know for sure; people have generally given the matter a lot of thought and they will be quite certain by the time they broach the subject with a parent or carer, so suggesting they might be mistaken will only serve to increase any feelings of isolation and fear of rejection they might be having.