Bookmarks

No Favorites

Supporting gender and sexual identity

As your child grows up, they will develop their own unique personality and identity.

Introduction

As your child grows up, they will develop their own unique personality and identity. Learning about who they are and trying different things is important for any child growing up.  Your support at this time can help your child to become increasingly independent while at the same time building confidence that will help to keep them safe.

Require easy english?

DownloadPDFdocx

Content tab block

Sometimes professionals will lump all children with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder together as if they are all the same, with the same interests, personalities and identities. This is obviously not the case. Many things help to create each person’s identity, not just having an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder. This includes:

  • likes and dislikes
  • ways of communicating
  • hobbies and other interests
  • friends and family
  • religion
  • culture
  • gender
  • who a person is attracted to

Supporting your child to develop their own identity is about:

  • allowing them to express themselves in a way they are comfortable with
  • giving them options to make decisions about what suits them
  • giving them opportunities to learn through experience

This doesn’t mean giving your child the opportunity to do anything and everything they want, rather it is an opportunity for your child to practice making decisions about their own life. This can be difficult for parents, particularly when it comes to their child’s gender identity and sexual identity.

Gender identity is about the gender you feel on the inside and how you express it on the outside. This is often seen in a person’s appearance and preferences, for example clothing or hobbies. It can also be seen in a person’s behaviour, for example the way they talk, the way they walk or the way they express their emotions. Gender norms, roles and expectations are part of each society, and children start to pick up these cues from an early age.

To support your child with developing their gender identity, you can start by thinking about the values you want to pass on to your child about gender. You may have particular views about what it means to be a good man or good woman based on your cultural or religious values. You may have ideas about gender norms and roles, and the importance of equality between the genders.

Whatever values you may have, thinking about them early can help you to identify the best ways to support your child to develop their gender identity. Some ways to support them are to:

  • teach them about your values about gender, and where they can go if they have questions or need help
  • give them options to make decisions about their own appearance. For example, the clothes they wear or their hairstyle
  • give them options to make decisions about which sport they play, or which hobby group they join
  • reassure them that you love them no matter their gender identity

Your child may have preferences that you don’t like. They may also have preferences for things not typically associated with their gender. Some of this may be experimentation, but it may also be something that your child identifies with. Giving your child opportunities to learn through experience means that sometimes you need to let them do things you don’t agree with if there are no immediate concerns about safety.

It’s also important to keep in mind that people with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder can also be transgender. This is where a person identifies as a different gender to their biological sex. Even if your child is not transgender, it can be a good idea to teach your child what transgender means so that they know how they should treat transgender people.

For more information about teaching your child about what transgender means, go to LGBTIQ.

Sexual identity is about who you are attracted to and want to be in a relationship with. Sometimes it is also referred to as sexual orientation, sexual attraction or sexuality.

As your child grows into a young adult, they may begin to develop sexual feelings for people of the same sex, opposite sex or both. They may begin to talk about the people they have crushes on, or start staring at people they are attracted to. Or they may actively not have sexual feelings towards people of any sex. All of this is OK.

Sometimes these feelings and behaviour may be experimentation, but it can also be something your child identifies with. It is important to start by thinking about the values you want to pass on to your child about sexual identity and intimate relationships.

You can then support your child during this time by:

  • teaching them about your values about sexual identity and intimate relationships, and where they can go if they have questions or need help
  • giving them options to make decisions about who they spend time with
  • talking about the different types of relationships that friends or family have, or the relationships you see on television or movies
  • reassuring them that you love them no matter their sexual identity

It’s also important to keep in mind that some people with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder identify as being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Even if your child is not lesbian, gay or bisexual, it can be a good idea to teach them what those words mean so that they know how they should treat people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual.

For more information about teaching your child about what lesbian, gay and bisexual means, go to LGBTIQ.

Conversation Starters

I noticed you were looking at the woman in the poster. Do you think she’s attractive?
I want you to be able to express yourself in a way that you’re comfortable with. Can we figure out together how you can do that safely?
There’s a new dating show on TV. What do you think about the people on that show?

Strategies for you to try

Support your child to try new activities.

This will help them to figure out what they like and don’t like

Support your child to meet new people, especially children of a similar age.

This will help them to develop their social skills, identify the type of people they like, and develop new relationships

Include your child in family routines, rituals and celebrations, and explain religious and cultural significance, if any, of those occasions.

This will help them to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion

Next steps

Explore the planet

×
Introduction to puberty for girls
Supporting gender and sexual identity

Topics controller

Use this area to find out what the current topic is and to navigate forward or back.

Welcome to lessons!

Lessons help keep you and your child on track to navigating planet puberty. We have specially curated these to help teach certain themes. Let’s have a look around to get you aquainted.

Lesson list and share

Click here to see the full list of topics covered by the lesson. Also feel free to share the lesson and your current position.

Share your progress!

Keep track or share your progress with yourself or someone else by copying or bookmarking the link below. This way you can see what lessons have and haven’t been completed.

Going back

Click here to get back to the main website after you have finished.