Author: Andy Earle
Many parents dread having “the talk” with their teens, and discussing intercourse between gay or lesbian teens can present an extra challenge for straight parents who might not know where to start. The last thing any parent wants to do is sound nervous, uneducated, or unprepared because lessons about safety and positive relationships might not sink in. And if your teen is typically defiant, they might go and do the opposite of what you recommend anyway. Here are some tips to update “the talk” for your gay or lesbian teen.
Recognize Your Perspective Barrier:
Parents might assume they already know how to explain sxx to their teen because of their experience, but what if they’ve only had straight intercourse? When parents must confront new sexual territory they’re unfamiliar with, it’s normal to feel apprehensive. We think the first step is to recognize that you know everything about sxx- sxx happens in many different contexts other than in straight relationships. Try to reduce feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or worried about having a sxx talk with your gay or lesbian teen, and keep doing the appropriate research to handle the conversation with confidence. Recognizing your perspective barrier is the first step in building a healthy dialogue with your teen.
Connecting in the Digital World:
Teens who are gay or lesbian might have greater challenges finding a partner due to a smaller dating pool, which can present increased risks. For one, they might feel that they should settle for less because there are less dating options in their immediate community, which is not good. Teens are especially prone to this type of poor decision-making due to a framing bias, which prevents them from looking for the best possible outcome. Or they might feel that they need to branch out and find something better via technology.
Gay and lesbian communities aren’t nearly as big as the straight community, so many people venture online to find someone to spend time with. And some online services exist merely for “hook-ups.” Informing your teen on the dangers of online interactions is important when discussing an intimate relationship. Online interactions can allow for many positive relationships to form, but it is crucial to educate your teen on the hazards of catfishing scams, predators, and imposters looking to take advantage of your teen. Remind your teen that it’s okay to use the Internet to make connections, but they should be cautious about revealing personal information or choosing to meet in person for the first time.
Educate for Healthy Intimacy:
Safe intercourse is fundamental to a healthy life, regardless of sexual orientation and it should be a highlight of your conversation. And responsible parents should want their gay or straight teen to safely enjoy sxx. Parents of gay or lesbian teens should make an additional effort to educate both themselves and their children, as teens in these communities are at an increased risk for contracting STDs and STIs. Websites such as Planned Parenthood and Mayo Clinic can help inform on safe methods of physical intimacy, while Scarleteen is a great website to help you gear “the talk” for your teen. If parents take time to educate themselves on healthy and safe sexual practices, teens will be informed so that they can safely explore the world of sxx. And they should feel empowered to explore!
Build a Conversation:
The most important thing a parent can do is to build an ongoing dialogue about sxx with their kids, starting a younger age, regardless of if they’ve come out, if they are closeted, or if they are straight. Ultimately sxx is sxx, whether it is gay, lesbian, straight, or anything. The biggest take away here is that talking about sxx with gay or lesbian teens shouldn’t happen once; parents should build a dialogue about how they plan to handle things. Share your experiences with your teen and explain how they inform your understanding of sxx. If a question appears that neither of you have the answer to, then search for the answer online, or better yet, talk to a trusted friend or relative who might have first-hand experience with gay or lesbian relationships, because that’s what an adult would do when they feel lost. Treat your teen like an adult as they begin to move into the adult world of intimacy.
Don’t Resort to Judgement:
Finally, parents cannot judge their teen and their sexuality. Gay and lesbian teens might not have the same sexual experiences as their parents, but they should not be judged for their differing preferences. Parents must support their teen at every step of they way so that they will have the ability to enjoy their life to the fullest. Gay and lesbian teens deserve to have as much fun as anyone else in the world, and parents should do everything in their power to ensure safe, fun sxx.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.