Do you have any suggestions on how (or if?) I should talk to my other children about their bisexual sister? They are younger than she is, and they know that she is dating a girl and they know that I support her, but I don’t know to what extent I should continue the conversation.
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Polly Kim
You probably don’t need to have a big talk with them, but knowing that you support and love your bisexual daughter and all of your children will allow your kids to be open with you and come to you if they have questions or concerns. You could mention LGBTQIA issues in regular conversation when they come up in the news or celebrity reports. Show that you support marriage equality and equal rights for LGBTQIA people in housing and employment. Show that you are bothered by inappropriate jokes and insults to LGBTQIA people. If you are so inclined, start wearing rainbows and the bisexual pride colors—pink, purple, and blue. Don’t be afraid to show your pride in your daughter and let your other children know her identity is not a secret to be ashamed of. Let them know you love them equally and be sensitive to their feelings—they may feel like she is getting more attention for being special.
In addition, give your children the tools to respond to comments and questions from their classmates. Educate yourself and then educate them in an age-appropriate way about some common misconceptions about bisexuals: She’s not confused, it’s not just a phase or a stepping stone to being gay, sexuality can be fluid and if she changes it doesn’t mean she was never really bisexual, it doesn’t mean she’s selfish or promiscuous and just wants to be able to have more partners, and it doesn’t mean she will never have one life partner. PFLAG meetings and their national and chapter websites are good resources for information. There are children’s books and young adult novels with diverse families and characters that could help your children see that there are others like their sister and that she’s not weird, bad, or whatever their classmates may call her. If they are in high school or middle school, find out if there is a GSA or other organization for LGBTQ students and allies at their school. Even some elementary schools have diversity clubs. Keep communication open with your children’s teachers and counselors to see if support or intervention is needed at school if other students are bothering them.
Show that you are not expecting or hoping all your daughter’s relationships will be heterosexual by keeping your questions gender-neutral with all of your children and with others when you talk about dating and relationships: Are you seeing anyone? Is there someone special who you like? Do you want to ask someone to the dance? Don’t make assumptions about your children, and show them that they shouldn’t make assumptions about other people either. Don’t say things that make it seem like you hope your daughter will end up with a boy or that your other children will end up in heterosexual relationships.
You know your children best, so you can judge what information on bisexuality and LGBTQIA issues will be helpful to them and what’s appropriate. Instead of a lecture, use everyday “teachable moments” as they arise. Show your children that you are happy to talk about anything and they will ask you when they have questions.
Polly Kim is the mother of 19-year-old twins, including a daughter who came out at age 15. Polly joined PFLAG Los Angeles soon after and is now a board member. She has been a science teacher for over 25 years, teaching high school biology, elementary school science, and high school science research.
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