Sexual identity and teens: supporting your teen on their journey part 2


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Sexual identity and teens: supporting your teen on their journey part 2We talked about how you can support your teen as they explore their sexual orientation. Part of your teen’s journey may involve coming out, or disclosing information about their sexual identity and/or gender orientation to their family, friends and eventually society as a whole. This is an ongoing decision making process. Weighing the risks can be stressful for everyone involved. If your teen is thinking of coming out, here are some points to consider:

  • They first need to feel comfortable with who they are before they can “come out” and expect others to feel comfortable with them. This can be the hardest step.
  • The choice to “come out” should be theirs. They may decide to discuss it with others who have come out or speak to a professional.
  • They don’t have to “come out” to the whole world at once. Many people prefer to begin by telling just a few close friends and family members to test the waters and gain a support network.
  • Help them identify someone to talk to and that they can count on for support when they “come out.” In school, college or university, they may want to talk to a counsellor. At work, they may want to confide in a mentor or close friend.
  • If they are “coming out” to you, their parent, they may consider enlisting the support of a counsellor to plan an appropriate “coming out” strategy. They may have information and materials available for you to read. They may give you time to absorb the information and adjust to the news.
  • “Coming out” is a lifelong process. They may want to “come out” to some people but not others. Over time they may feel more comfortable “coming out” to more people in their life.
  • PFLAG is a wonderful organization that supports parents with gay, lesbian and bisexual children.

Work with your teen to teach them that their sexual orientation is an integral part of who they are. Relationships may change; some may grow and strengthen, others might fall by the wayside. Being open, available and informed will encourage your teen to add you to their support network.

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