This article was contributed by Brook

Brook provides free and confidential sexual health services and advice for young people under 25. The organisation has been at the forefront of providing wellbeing and sexual health support for young people for over 50 years.

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When you think your child may be gay

Rainbow steps

Photo: Altug Karakoc 

Advice and support for parents who think their child may be lesbian, gay, bi or trans

I think my son or daughter might be gay. What do I do?

It's really common for young people to feel confused or unsure about their sexuality at different times in their lives. Lots of girls have feelings for other girls and lots of boys have feelings for other boys and that makes them wonder if they might be gay or bisexual. These feelings can be very intense and sometimes young people can be upset by them. It can be very difficult for someone to open up and talk honestly about their sexuality, whatever their age. 

Parents are often the last to know

It is usually the case that by the time young gay people speak to their parents about their sexuality, they have thought long and hard about it. The instinct to say 'are you sure?' is extremely powerful. While it's not a terrible thing to say, it's not very helpful either. Parents are often the last to know and even nowadays, not many young people come out unless they have given it a lot of thought.

‘Our understanding of sexuality nowadays is more fluid’

That said, our understanding of sexuality nowadays is more fluid than it used to be. This is probably a good thing for young people, who often use their teenage years to explore their sexuality. Sometimes these experiments might lead them to conclude they're gay, some may decided they just want to have relationships with members of the opposite sex, and others may feel they're bisexual (attracted to both men and women) and go on to have relationships with both sexes.  

The pressure to ‘decide’

It can sometimes be difficult to understand the level of pressure that young people can come under to 'decide' what they are or label themselves in one way of another. You can help by outlining your own feelings, but also saying that you won't judge them.

It's really important that you are as supportive as you possibly can be, irrespective of what you hear or how you feel about discussing their sexuality. They are still your child. 

If they would like to speak with someone in confidence about their feelings, they can contact the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on 0300 330 0630. Parents, family members and friends are also welcome to call, and they can signpost to local services too.

Further reading

Parent Zone LGBTQ+ Hub

Meeting others: the particular challenges of LGBTQ+ children

LGBTQ+ glossary for parents

Online support

Advice and support for parents who think their child may be lesbian, gay, bi or trans from Stonewall

Get help

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: May 2018

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