Back To School Guide For Parents With LGBT Kids

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How To Help Your Kids With Homosexuality And School
You've purchased the notebooks and pens... did you remember to have a supportive talk with your kid?

Hard to believe it's mid-August and in some areas of the country and world, kids have already taken up residence back in the classrooms. I hear ya: big sighs of relief that summer boredom has passed. But as we're celebrating, let's keep in mind how difficult it can be for kids to navigate peer pressure, bullying and judgment after a carefree summer. These kids are our responsibility, so let's buck up and make their transition to the school year as safe and smooth as possible. Which leads me to the gist of this article: how to make the school year safe for your LGBT kid.

There is no magic wand to ward off bullies, snide remarks or narcissistic opinions of those who don't understand homosexuality or the LGBT world. The only way to navigate through it is with love, understanding, and a few good support mechanisms.

1. Support starts at home! Even if you're still in crisis, confusion, or coming to terms with your child's sexuality, remember how you felt as a child when you thought your own parents didn't understand or support you. It wasn't the best feeling in the world, was it? Whether those moments led to shouting matches, tears, or standing in the quiet, contrary corners of "I'm right and you're wrong," none of us relishes the feeling of parental rejection. Now, as parents ourselves, it's time to support our children, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, let them know we've got their backs.

2. It's not you, it's them. By having a solid and supportive talk with your child about the fact that their sexuality has nothing to do with others or their opinions, you begin to lay the groundwork for a confident kid. While it seems elementary to have this conversation, it truly is important. Even more important is to teach your child not to use the "It's just your opinions, your upbringing and your weird beliefs" mentality as a defense mechanism. A positive approach is "We're all as different as the back to school clothes we bought, and isn't that cool?"

3. Know when to hold them, know when to scold them. Now I'm not advocating fights, screaming matches, or stirring up trouble at school. However, there is a beauty that exists in powerfully standing your ground, even as a child, teen, and young adult. This takes parental finesse and confidence to help your child master this type of approach. However, the lifelong gift of confidence you bestow on your child that enables them to speak their mind in a respectful and healthy manner is a life lesson worth practicing.

In fact, that's exactly what I would advocate: role playing with your child some of the potential situations they might find themselves in throughout their school days and beyond. You can't prepare for every scenario, but the support your child will feel is priceless when they see your willingness to go this extra mile.

4. Be bold and give their teacher an apple. I'm not being literal about the apple, but it couldn't hurt to take a real one along with what I'm about to suggest. Take the courageous step and meet your child's teachers. Don't stop there. Talk to them and listen. Share with them the unique light your child brings into the world because of their sexuality. Then ask them for concerns, feedback, and how they'd like to be supported. Even if they are not of like mind, or not supportive of LGBT individuals, it is their responsibility to ensure that your child receives an education and is kept safe when they are in their care at school.

If you achieve nothing more than an understanding of where they stand, then you'll be more prepared to navigate the waters of the school year. Same goes for making a personal connection with the school counselors, principal(s), anyone and everyone your child will be interacting. One note of caution: make sure your child knows you are going to these lengths, and that they are on board. Nothing would be worse than for them to find out you went about this task as if you were on a covert assignment from the Gay Mafia. (Which doesn't exist. I don't think).

5. Find solace in support. This tip may seem obvious, but for many, until they ask, they don't know that there are numerous groups right in their own communities that support LGBT Youth and their families. Here are a few:

By no means is this list complete. There are numerous, support groups that make it their mission to ensure that schools are a safe place not only for LGBT kids, but for all kids — regardless of sexual orientation.

As a parent myself, raising two teens, I've come to realize, as most parents do, that you can't protect them. You can only prepare them. I happened to be at the funeral of a good friend's mother not long ago, and as her brother was giving the eulogy, he made a profound statement: As parents, we all want what's best for our children. Ironically, as parents, we don't always want what's right for our children.

As the 2013-14 school year kicks off, I challenge all parents, regardless of their child's sexual orientation, to hold a special space in your hearts to do what's right for your children. And how do you do that? Enable the lines of communication to always be open and never, ever closed.

Rick Clemons, The Gay Man’s Life Coach & The Coming Out Coach – CPC, ELI-MP, ACC

More homosexuality advice from YourTango:


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Twitter - @rickclemons & @ComingOutCoach

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Article contributed by

Rick Clemons

Author

Rick Clemons, The Gay Man's Life Coach & The Coming Out Coach

Rick is a straight-forward, compassionate, insightful, challenging, mentor, guide, and Certified Professional Coach who's been featured on The Ricki Lake Show, and is a highly sought after radio show personality, blogger, author, and faculty member of Sex Coach U. His loving, challenging, gentle, and inspiring approach ignites a fire in clients, helping them get through the darkest moments of life and come out the other side, kicking butt, and being authentically themselves.

Rick thrives, working with individuals, and those in their inner circle, as they embark on the journey out of the closet and beyond. He specializes in helping people build confidence, live their passion while loving their work, and live authentically. Authenticity isn't just a word he throws around lightly. It's the backbone of his practice and the manner in which he personnally strives to live each and every day of his own life.

Join Rick's Monthly "Guyz Like Us" Free Coaching Call For Gay Men!

Connect with Rick through his Coming Out & Life Coaching Newsletter.

Schedule A Discovery Session - Click Here

Twitter - @rickclemons
Facebook -The Gay Man's Life Coach & Rick The Coming Out Coach
You Tube Channel -The Gay Man's Life Coach & Coming Out Coach

Location: Riverside, CA
Credentials: ACC, CPC
Specialties: LGBT Issues (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), Men's Issues, Sexuality
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