The Gen Z LGBTQIA+ community in Australia is larger than many realise.
Our Year13 research conducted over numerous surveys has found that a quarter of Australian Gen Zs identify as LGBTQIA+.
Yup, one in four Gen Zs.
This means there’s a pretty high chance that your child isn’t heterosexual or cisgender.
It also means that parents today are much more likely than previous generations of parents to have a child coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.
So how can you best handle such conversations?
Well, LGBTQIA+ activists have some pretty solid advice on how to prepare and navigate conversations that can be stressful for your child.
Trans educator and activist Katherine Wolfgramme told SBS News that since many parents and adults can feel unprepared for such sensitive discussions despite extensive research, peer support is key.
“As a parent, if you’re not gay or trans, you don’t know exactly how to approach it,” she said.
“And so aside from online resources, the most powerful support you can receive is from other parents that are going through the same experience.”
Meanwhile, registered psychologist Dr Helen Morgan – who has developed resources for parents of gender-diverse children – recommends parents let their child lead the conversation and that they focus on active listening.
Even if it feels uncomfortable.
“We know that the very first step that’s really helpful, is to thank them for sharing with you, and tell them how much you love them, something like, ‘I love you, and I’m here for you’,” Dr Morgan told SBS News.
“We always talk about following the child’s lead, in terms of how you proceed forward with your child’s gender identity journey, and just be led by them on who they want to tell.
“The child might not know yet, but yet, nevertheless, you’re showing your support by asking and they learn that in the future they can tell you things. What we know is that strong parental support is the biggest protective factor for supporting children’s mental health and well-being.”
Dr Morgan says it’s okay for parents to acknowledge their own negative feelings if they have them, and if they do to take time to let the news from their child sink in and to then restart the conversation when they feel ready.
This conversation can be an opportunity for parents to connect on a deeper level with their child as parental support on this issue is the best way to support and protect a young person’s mental health.
And that sounds like a beautiful approach to us.