Teen Bisexuality Discovery
As little as ten years ago, the news that one’s teen was gay or lesbian was one of the worst things parents thought they could hear. There are still all too many gay or lesbian teens who become throwaways–tossed out of their own homes for the “crime” of loving a member of their own sex. In many circles, however, this attitude of horror has become one of tolerance–or even indifference. Many parents now think they can cope with a gay or lesbian teen, but what about a bisexual one? For many families, bisexuality is far more difficult to understand than homosexuality. This article deals with common questions parents of bisexual teens ask.
Parents whose teen comes out to them as gay or lesbian have clear, understandable information to deal with. Whether they like it or not, their teen is attracted to members of the same sex.
But if your teen comes out to you as bisexual, you may find yourself in alien territory, confused about what her “real” sexual orientation is and what approach you should take to dealing with it. You probably have a lot of questions. This article provides answers to some of the most common concerns parents have when their teen comes out as bisexual.
Is my teen gay or straight?
Your teen is neither. He is bisexual. This means he is attracted to members of both sexes. At different times in your teen’s life, he may have significant relationships with both men and women. Or he may fall in love with one person and spend his life with them.
Bisexuality means my teen is attracted to the opposite sex, too, doesn’t it? Why can’t she just forget about the same sex?
Asking your bisexual daughter to forget completely about her attraction to women would be a little like asking her to stop seeing the color blue. Her attraction to the opposite sex is just as real as her attraction to the same sex. Telling her to try to ignore same sex feelings sends a clear, hurtful message that you can’t accept her the way she is.
Isn’t a bisexual just someone who hasn’t come out as gay yet?
Many people do use bisexuality as a stepping stone to coming all the way out of the closet as gay or lesbian. This fact, however, doesn’t mean that true bisexuals don’t exist. If your teen tells you he’s bisexual, trust that bisexuality is his reality at the moment. If he later decides he’s gay or straight, that’s fine too.
Why does the gay community discriminate against my teen?
It’s sad but true that some people in the gay and lesbian community can be hostile to people who identify as bisexual, though luckily this is happening less frequently than it once did. In fact, most gays now refer to the gay community as the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning) community.
Unfortunately, some gay people buy into the misconception that bisexuals are actually “cowardly” lesbians or gays.
Others may believe that anyone who is having relationships with the opposite sex is enjoying the “privileges” of being heterosexual (such as the right to marry, the safety to hold hands or otherwise display affection in public, etc.) and therefore should not be seeking solace from the same sex community which does not enjoy these rights.
If your teen has had the misfortune to encounter unfriendliness from some gays or lesbians, encourage her to keep reaching out. Most of the GLBTQ community will be supportive and understanding.
Will sending my teen to counseling change anything?
It depends on what you mean by “change.” It will not change his sexual orientation, although the kind of harsh, punitive counseling recommended by some religious sects might shame him into avoiding same sex relationships regardless of his attraction.
A good counselor, one who has experience in dealing with sexual issues faced by teens, will help him clear up any questions about his sexual orientation and give him the confidence to make positive choices about his life and relationships.
Where can we go for extra help and information?
Contact your local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays–although unfortunately the title does not specify it, bisexuals and their families are also welcome). Support through PFLAG is also available online.
You might also see if there is a GLBTQ Community Center in town and ask them for a referral to a counselor who specializes in working with parents of GLBTQ teens.
Finally, remember that having a bisexual teen is nothing to be ashamed of. Just as you’ve accepted your teen’s IQ, the color of her hair, her height, and her penchant for practical jokes, accept her bisexuality. It is one facet–and only one–of the miraculous blend of characteristics that makes your teen the person she is.