Coming out as LGBTQ+ to your child 

LGBTQ+ parents raise happy, open, and accepting children. They may also have extra parenting challenges. They might face discrimination or worry that their child will feel different or even be bullied. 

If you are coming to terms with your own sexuality or gender identity after becoming a parent, it is understandable to be worried about the effect on your child. Overall, it is better for you and your child if you are open and honest about who you are. This will support your child to accept and value you, themselves, and others for being true to themselves. 

How to talk to your child about your sexuality or gender identity

Every family is different and you will know best how to communicate with your child. Here are some things to consider when coming out to your child:  

  • Think about the best time for your child to talk to them about your sexuality or gender identity. It will probably take them some time to process what you are saying, so be mindful of other things that may be going on in their life at the time, such as exams.  
  • Think about their age and personality. Use age-appropriate language and explain in a way you feel they will understand.  
  • Think about what they know already about relationships, sexuality and gender identity and build on that. Show that you are accepting of yourself when you talk to them, so that they feel assured and safe. 
  • Be honest and tell them your thoughts clearly. Try not to burden them with any emotional difficulties that you are having. You can seek support for this from adult friends or professionals.  

Give them time

Once you have had the first conversation with your child, give them time to process and ask questions. 

  • Allow them the space to express whatever they feel at the time. They may just seem to accept it without question, or they may feel angry or sad. They may be happy for you. There is no right or wrong way for them to feel. They will be exploring various emotions and thoughts. This is not a reflection on you, but how they adjust to change. 
  • Let them ask questions. It is okay if you do not know the answers or are unsure about how to answer. You can simply say you are not sure yet or that you will have a think and get back to them. 
  • Communicate with your child’s other parent, and extended family, where you feel it is appropriate, so they are prepared and ready to support your child too. 
  • Introduce changes gradually. If you have a new partner, your child might not be ready to be introduced to them yet.  
  • If your name, pronouns or appearance have changed, allow your child time to get used to these changes. Talk to them about how you identify and ask them what they would like to call you. 
  • Remember to keep the conversation going. Children may feel differently at different times of their lives, as their own understanding of life develops.  

Supporting your child

Your child might feel happy for you but worried about what other people think. It’s important for them to know that you and their wider support network are there to help them navigate this change. 

  • Talk with them about how they may want to share the news with their friends.  
  • Talk to them about discrimination and prejudice. Help them to recognise it and learn about being inclusive and accepting. 
  • You could speak to your child’s school so they are aware and can support your child if they find it difficult.  
  • Help them to find things to read or watch and show them where to get talking therapies. You can find a selection of books for children of all ages featuring different sexualities and identities at Gay Pride shop LGBTQ+ Books for Children.

Supporting your child when their other parent has come out

If your child’s other parent has come out, you are likely to have mixed feelings about this. Do seek support from trusted adults or professionals if you feel you need it. It’s important for your child to see that other adults in their life are supportive of their parent’s sexuality or gender identity.  

  • Try to separate your feelings from your child’s and listen supportively to them. Your role is to support your child as they process this change. 
  • Speak positively about their other parents and encourage other family members to do the same. 
  • Celebrate diversity and inclusion. This is good for your children to see and hear.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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