“Hi! My daughter is in 5th grade. This week one of her best friends spent the night and mentioned to her that one of their favorite YouTubers was bisexual. Then he told her that he wasn’t sure if he was bi or straight or what. She told him whatever he decides is fine. He said that he was concerned that kids at school think he is gay. There is a bully girl. We live in a small town and his mom is a teacher. I’m not sure if his mom knows, but I’m worried about him feeling secure and happy. Is it okay to talk to his mom about it?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Amelia
Can you out a kid to his mom without his permission? In a word: No.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Ok, here’s the thing: You don’t know how his mom feels about gay people. And even if you did, you don’t know how his mother feels about bisexual people. And even if you did, you really have no freaking clue about how this mom would feel about her son being bisexual.
Coming out is still really hard for a lot of kids. If this boy hasn’t told his mom that he’s questioning his orientation, then there might be a good reason for that. You don’t live in that house, and you cannot assume you know what this mother would think or how she would react. She probably doesn’t either. Even the most liberal and progressive parents can be confronted with feelings they didn’t expect when it’s their own kid coming out to them.
The reality is that coming out is still not safe for a lot of kids in this country. It’s sad but true.
Then there’s another reason: Outing someone in general is just not cool. Ever. But especially not a child, and especially not to their parents. Coming out is intensely personal. This boy—this kid—is allowed to come out in his own time and in his own way. That needs to be a moment between mom and son, and not between mom and well-meaning-but-informed-only-with-eavesdropping-info-mom-of-her-son’s-friend. You don’t get to take that away from them, no matter how that conversation might end up.
So, I have told you a lot about what NOT to do, but what should you do instead?
You can’t do anything about this child feeling safe and secure in his home, but you can make sure he feels safe and secure in your home. You can make sure that your kids and their friends know that your house is LGBTQ friendly. You can make sure that your kids know that all different people are welcome and embraced in your home and by your family.
My awesome brother and his equally awesome wife live in a middle-ish-sized conservative town in the middle of a red state. They have always believed in the rights of all people, and have been outspoken in their lives and in front of their children about supporting the right to equal marriage, bathroom rights for transgender people, and any other LGBTQ related topic that might get discussed, particularly over the past few years. As a result their house became a safe haven for some of the LGBTQ kids in their community. These kids knew they were safe there, because my brother and his wife made sure that they knew.
I have heard of some parents putting a rainbow or equal sign sticker on their front door as a silent symbol to their kids and their kids’ friends that their home is LGBTQ friendly. You can feel free to try that too.
As for the bullying girl, you can and definitely should talk to your kid’s teacher and let them know they have a bullying problem in their classroom. It’s important that parents talk to teachers about bullying issues, and you can do this in a way that respects this child’s privacy. Chances are the teacher already knows there is a problem, but sometimes hearing about it from parents can help foster change.
Thank you for caring about this kid. Your heart is definitely in the right place. Growing up is hard for everyone, and extra adults looking out for our kids is always a good thing.
Amelia is a mother and breadwinner. When not working she’s spending as much time as possible with her three young sons, friends, and family. In her copious free time she knits, obsesses about science fiction and cult television, and reads way too many books. She considers her most superhero worthy act finding a couple free hours now and then to read trashy novels.