Pin It
Friday, June 28th, 2013

8 Reasons to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality

8 reasons to talk to your kids about homosexuality—InCultureParent via © shutterstock

Growing up with lesbian parents, I wished my classmates’ parents had talked to them about homosexuality. Here are eight reasons why it’s important you talk to your kids about homosexuality. It’s all part of the mission of raising globally-minded children!


1.  Eventually, inevitably, they will meet someone who is gay.


They may have already. With more and more gay people having kids there could be gay parents in your preschool or playgroup. When that fateful meeting occurs, it might be nice for your kids to have some context. Part of parenting is explaining the world to your children, essentially creating order from chaos.


2.  It is never too early.


Kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for.  I understood by kindergarten that my family was different because I had multiple mommies and often tried to break it down for classmates. It would have been nice if they’d had some clue as to what I was talking about.  Kindergarten curriculum tends to incorporate lessons about family composition, which depending on the school may help or hinder your cause. I was lucky enough to have my parents hold teacher in-services, in which they explained the need for inclusion of my family type. You may have to undo confusion caused in the classroom or you may be elaborating on the existing material, either way your voice is important.


3.  If you don’t someone else will.


It will likely be on the playground. Kids love to share the information they’ve garnered with each other. So much of learning is social and peer-based. If you neglect to talk to your children about important things, other kids will have those conversations for you. Those children might already have different values and prejudices from your own. Before you let a random fourth grader shape your child’s stance on gender expression as a concept maybe you should take some time to talk it over yourselves.


4.  Children are naturally open-minded.


Hatred is taught. Similarly, acceptance, tolerance and compassion can be encouraged. As these are traits we endorse generally in society, practicing with gay people is a great start.


5.  Children are also naturally self-absorbed, black and white thinkers.


It’s good to help them develop skills around empathy and difference. Part of talking about people being gay is teaching kids that there are people different from them (potentially) in the world. “Everyone is not the same” may be a novel concept for children, who have a hard time grasping that there’s anyone outside of themselves. Talking about the ways in which humanity is diverse is skill building. Prepping them to understand and respect others is the foundation for empathy. Successful relationships are built on that foundation of respect.


6.  They might be gay too.


There is a chance that your child already does or will someday identify as gay. If you’ve talked about it, they’ll know how you feel and it will ease their anxiety to know they are safe and accepted.  In the absence of explicit interchange, kids assume all kinds of things. They might feel they can’t be fully themselves or fully a part of the family. I recently saw a dance piece in Los Angeles that featured movement concentrated in the periphery of the viewer’s field of vision. The choreographer described the inspiration for the work as how he felt in his family growing up—as though he and his queerness existed largely in the periphery. Making sure our children know they will be loved for who they are is a central task of good parenting.


7.  Homophobia is intimately intertwined with sexism, which oppresses us all.


So much of what we perceive as homophobia hinges on underlying sexism. That is why the targets for violence are more likely to be effeminate boys/men and girls/women who are seen as more masculine. They are punished for being non-normative gender wise. But the strictures of gender conformity end up making us less complete, more repressed versions of our true selves. Men especially have been forced into a very narrow set of behavioral options.  It is not just gay people who will benefit from the progress made in that regard.


8.  The more you talk to your kids the better off they are.


Establishing open lines of communication helps maintain trust and encourages kids to come forward with other things they might be confused about. Studies have also shown that the learning gap associated with poverty in fact relates to the amount of words heard in the home. Poorer children tend to hear far fewer words and the disparity in the first couple of years creates deficits in the long run. Talking to your children about anything can help them. Why not use the occasion to multitask and fight ignorance at the same time?


© 2013, Kellen Kaiser. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:

Are Germans Really Rude?

This German dad shares his thoughts

10 Best World Maps for Your Children’s Room

Because every little global citizen needs a map

All I Want for Christmas is Perfectly Bilingual Children

Why OPOL has been harder than we thought.

Breastfeeding Around the World

In photos and figures


Kellen has watched other people parent for years. She has worked as a babysitter, infant teacher, nanny and in continuing education and quality improvement for childcare providers. She aspires to be a foster parent someday.

Leave us a comment!

  1. CommentsElizabeth Waller   |  Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I was so glad to find your article. Your words address exactly the issues with which am concerned. May I share the article with readers on facebook? (With your credit and information, of course.) Thank you! I will wait for your answer before posting.

  2. CommentsThe Editors   |  Sunday, 23 March 2014 at 8:56 am

    Please feel free to share!

  3. CommentsRuth   |  Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for this article. I have found that children’s books are often a great way to start conversations with kids. What children’s books would you recommend as conversation starters to address the topic of homosexuality?

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
Hi Kim! I am so glad that this article was useful for you and made you feel validated as a parent. It's not often in this judgmental world of parenting we get that, right?! That's the main reason...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
I love reading your work. I can olny imagine what it would be like to have such beautiful customs and true community. I understand why it is so very very important to keep these traditions alive. Be...
From No Kids Allowed: How Kenyan Weddings are Changing
Your mother in-law seems somewhat reasonable. Many Chinese Mother In-laws are not. In their scenario, they would be number 1 to the child and you would be number two. Many want to have a bond closer...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
I think Konstantina is actually responding to what is probably more familiar/praised/or preferred socially as well. I was an English teacher in Poland with a distinct accent. I struggled to get Engl...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Noor Kids' title "First Time Fasting" is another great rea...
From 6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan
This article was shared in a community I run to connect globetrotting parents and everyone LOVED it. You should join us! We all relate to your experience. Many of us, including me, are in the same b...
From Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get
Please help: I Love my wife and my son. I am also EXTREMELY involved as a dad. I had to move to china ( in a tiny tiny town) where I am the only foreigner so that my wife can take over the family bu...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
Thanks for writing this!! My baby is 7 months, and I love having her sleep in my room. I don't mention it too often to people who have had kids because they seem a little judgy on it. So tonight I...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Honestly, it looks like the author married into a very backward and old fashioned family. Not stimulating children's curiosity, differences between boys and girls, and women slaving in the house, wh...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

More Columns