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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people are a part of every community and beloved members of many families.


It is important for your child to understand what these terms mean so that they can:

  • better understand how to treat LGBTIQ people with respect
  • better understand themselves, if they are unsure of their sexual or gender identity

Use the resources listed below to help guide your discussions with your child.

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Talking about respecting LGBTIQ people won’t change your child’s sexual or gender identity. Showing your respect for the LGBTIQ community can help your child accept themselves if they’re trying to figure out their sexual or gender identity or trying to decide whether to come out to you. And if your teen isn’t LGBTIQ, it sets a good example about respecting people who are different from you.

Like with all topics, when talking about LGBTIQ you can start with the basic concepts and then move onto more in-depth areas. You can start by talking about:

  • what the different terms mean in simple language. For example:
    • women who are attracted to other women are called lesbians
    • men who are attracted to other men are called gay
    • some people are attracted to both men and women. They are called bisexual
    • some people who look like boys when they were born grow up feeling like they are a girl. Some people who look like girls when they were born grow up feeling like they are a boy. These people call themselves transgender.
    • intersex people are born with bodies that are different to what people usually think about men’s or women’s bodies
    • queer can mean different things to different people. Some people call themselves queer because the other identities like lesbian, gay or transgender don’t really match their identity
  • LGBTIQ people who your child already knows. This could be family, friends, characters in movies or books, or famous people. Your child may also have peers at school who have two mums or two dads
  • the importance of treating all people with respect, and how you show respect to other people. For example:
    • be kind to people
    • don’t stare at people
    • don’t point at people
    • don’t make fun of LGBTIQ people or call them names
    • don’t ask LGBTIQ people private questions if you don’t know them

You can then move onto more in-depth topics as your child ages or as their understanding grows.

This can include things like:

  • What it means to ‘come out’ as LGBTIQ
  • LGBTIQ relationships
  • Discrimination
  • How to be an ally of LGBTIQ people

If you child is doing things which make you wonder about their gender or sexual identity, or if your child comes out to you, don’t panic! Encourage them to talk to you or somebody else they trust. If they don’t want to talk or aren’t ready to talk, that’s OK too. Reassure them that you love them and support them no matter what.

You can also help by creating a safe space for your child as they develop their gender and sexual identity. You can create a safe space by:

  • asking your child what they need from you and the rest of the family to feel safe and supported
  • asking them what they need to feel safe at school
  • supporting them to maintain their friendships
  • letting them wear the clothes they want to wear
  • letting them have the hairstyle they want
  • ensuring that negative language about LGTBIQ people is not used
  • connecting them to support services if needed

Bullying can be a concern for LGBTIQ children, particularly if they also have an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder. If you’re concerned about bullying, go to Bullying for more information.

Conversation Starters

Your friend at school has two mums. Do you know what that means?
I noticed that you’ve started wearing different clothes lately. Is that a new style you’ve chosen?
That character on tv just came out as gay. Do you think that would have been difficult for them?

Strategies for you to try

Create a safe space

Work with your child to find out how you can make the family home a safe space for them.

Use respectful language

Using respectful language is an important way to show your child how they should use respectful language, and also to show your child that you are supportive of their gender and sexual identity.

Use teachable moments

Use LGBTIQ characters from movies or TV shows, or news about famous LGBTIQ people to prompt conversation.

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Introduction to puberty for girls

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