This week, Raising My Rainbow covered the topic of talking to LGBT children about sex and puberty—how much do you say, and who says it?
Queerty readers had some good insights and suggestions for parents of young people of all orientations and gender expressions.
Here’s a sample:
My partner and I raised a boy and a girl. When it came time to give the sex talk, it was much easier to talk to our son. With our daughter, it was awkward and there were questions she had that we really didn’t have good answers for.
Ultimately, I took our daughter to our local chapter of Planned Parenthood. She was 12. The folks there were fantastic. A nurse took my daughter into a private room and talked with her for about an hour. I told them I wanted them to answer any questions she had, that I didn’t need to know what she asked unless she wanted to share it with me, and I told them they could give her any material they felt she needed to better understand the changes her body was going through.
My partner and I did discuss heterosexuality and homosexuality with both our children, and our daughter had a girlfriend for two years in high school before marrying a young man. Our son was definitely heterosexual, with many beautiful girlfriends that left my partner and me actually wondering what the attraction was!
So in raising your sons, I would say give them general information at first, explain both hetero- and homosexuality and let them take the lead with questions. They will ask what they want to know about. —Mark Allen
Honestly, I don’t think it important, who gives the sex talk only that it is given. My ex-wife was adamant that I not even talk to my son about such matters and I was just as adamant that I would be. My ex-wife is an ultra religious, heterosexual, conservative Republican while I, on the other hand, am a spiritual, bisexual, liberal Democrat with a sprinkling of conservative ideals.
I talked to my son about sexuality in general, not in terms of hetero/homo. I think most parents fail to realize that a lot of same-sex experimentation happens before an opposite-gender encounter. There is a lot of “you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine” experimentation, truth or dare, circle jerks, breast comparison, practice kissing, penile comparison, pubic-hair flashing, ball/ass slapping, locker-room anxiety etc.
I explained to my son at a young age the differences between and fundamental practices of heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism. Letting him know each was valid and would depend on his innate being. A comprehensive talk on STDs is also important but can be done a little later than the initial talk.
Personally I believe an open talk with both parents is the most beneficial, because the child will feel they can come to either parent with questions and not feel ashamed. —Chad
Wouldn’t it be nice if the “sex talk” wasn’t just a one time deal? It bugs me that we look at it like peeling a Band-Aid and that kids only get to hear the info once from their most trusted source.
It should be an open dialogue: If we quit treating sex like a taboo subject, there would be a lot less feeling like we need to hide the information (and that they need to hide from us). I’m sure in this day and age kids are gonna find porn before you can give a sex talk. We should just accept the fact that sex exists, kids are gonna experiment probably before they even hit puberty, and it’s a parent’s responsibility to protect them from the real harm of sex which is STIs and unwanted pregnancy. —dkmagby
Lots of great ideas here. I never knew that Planned Parenthood offered the kind of service that Mark Allen mentions. I definitely agree with dkmagby that there needs to be an ongoing dialogue. Our culture seems to have embraced this idea that the sex talk is some sort of painful ordeal that the family must reluctantly endure like a tribal initiation ceremony. Nobody wants to do it, nobody likes it, but if we don’t do it, or if we do it carelessly, something terrible will happen.
For me, I think I learned about sex mostly from reading: My best friend’s parents, who were quite enlightened, kept a copy of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex* on the bookshelf in their living room. And then there was Cosmopolitan magazine, which… okay, I probably shouldn’t even go into the stuff I learned from Cosmo, but let me just say that the dessert-topping industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to Helen Gurley Brown.
So, yeah, I agree that there should be an ongoing dialogue. But also there needs to be an understanding that you, the parent, might not know all the answers—or be able to anticipate all the questions—and you don’t have to be the only source of information. —Kurt