How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

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How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

I am looking for help in supporting my son who has only recently come out as being gay at his all boys school.  I didn't know anything about this until he burst into floods of tears when I picked him up from school last week saying that other students were teasing him for being gay and that he is in fact gay and had confirmed this to his schoolfriends who had been questioning him about his sexuality.  Apparently the kids he told were fine with it but then word got out to other students who had been making unkind remarks. 

 

The day I picked him up from school, he had been involved in a physical altercation in the locker room which he assumed was to do with his sexuality.  This all happened  only a day before  he has due to go on school camp.  Fortunately camp departure was delayed because of the bad weather and we had a chance to get onto the school and tell them what was going on.  they were very good, ie, escalated the locker room incident right up the chain immediately, took action in relation to the alleged perpetrator and provided support to my son. 

 

As it turned out, the incident in the locker room was actually a misunderstanding (we think), ie, kid came up to my son first thing the next day and apologised and said it was because my son had deliberately knocked his drink bottle (something son had neglected to mention to us) and he had lost his temper over that. This was before anyone from the school had spoken to the boy so I do think it was a genuine apology and explanation. 

 

I am still terribly worried about my son.  he is very small for his age and only new at this school.  He did get a cop a bit of name calling at his old school which, while on the surface, seemed much more gay positive, was actually pretty pathetic at taking any action when issues did arise.

 

he is now saying he wants to return to his old school where he felt more comfortable being himself, particularly with the girls.  We are keen for him to stay where he is though as we think they have much better support mechanisms in place, both for his mental health and for his learning.    I would like to help him find some other areas in which he can feel free to be himself though, eg, a support group or some kind of shared activitiy with other gay teenagers so he doesn't feel so alone.  I do have gay adult friends who are keen to shower him with support and encouragement but think he probably needs people closer to his own age. 

Mod

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Hi @hashtagmum thanks for posting and welcome to the ReachOut parents forum! No doubt a few of the other members of the forum will provide some further support but in the meantime as a young person who came out as a gay teenager myself I will provide as much expertise as I can.

 

For me the school counsellor was an immensely helpful resource when I came out in year 10 - Is your son willing to have a chat to the school counsellor? Another option for both you and your son is QLife [click here]

who have qualified counsellors online and the phones for free until midnight each night. QLife also may be able to link you into more local services/supports to help discuss the concerns around bullying and changing schools.

 

Look forward to hearing from you Smiley Happy

Frequent scribe

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Thanks very much, Bree.  He does have one very supportive teacher who is coordinating support with the others, including the school counsellor. Unfortunately this didn't all come out until the other night and he is straight into holidays when he gets back from camp so won't have a chance to see anyone before then. 

 

I will check out that Qlife link - thanks very much!

 

I have also had a look around the Reach Out site but was a bit disappointed that the only story I could find that was similar to my son's was one involving bullying and bashing!  I am really hoping this is not going to be the case in 2017! 

Super contributor

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Welcome @hashtagmum and thank you so very much for sharing your story with us. It's always so wonderful to hear parents fully supporting their teenagers coming out and asking how to support them through it!

 

I'm sorry there's not a lot of similar content here yet, we are very new and still growing.

If you have a read here instead, you'll see the youth community has some positive stories about coming out.

But there are many difficult stories as well, mostly because that's when young people look for support.

 

The first service I would reccommend is Twenty10 (Click link to see website). They are the largest service in NSW that specifically provides support to young people who are GLBTIQ. You can read here a wonderful session they ran in Reach Out Youth about coming out. They are a credible service so you know your son is safe meeting up with their organised groups. You can find the options they offer across Sydney here.

 

The other service I highly recommend is Camp Out They are a camp for young people aged 13 - 17 who are questioning their sexuality and/or gender. The staff are all highly trained (an ex-colleague of mine regularly attends and she is an amazing child psychologist) and the camp is incredibly therapeutic for young people. They also focus a lot on building coping skills and resilience. Their next camp for 2017 is in October but if you're interested, maybe contact them soon as I know they are very popular.

 

How are you going? Have you got some good support around you?

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Frequent scribe

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Thanks Ngaio.  I have now contacted Twenty 10 and they think there might be a group near where we live which would be great. 

 

That camp sounds fantastic!  Unfortunately we will be overseas at that time this year.  It might be something he would like to do next year though. 

 

As for me, I had a good chat to someone from PFLAG last week.  My husband and I have also been talking a fair bit but we don't always see eye to eye on things pertaining to our son, ie, he is more inclined to let him manage things for himself whereas I worry and want to protect him.   I am so worried about him being on camp this week - they are out in the bush with no phones so can't even talk to him.  teacher in charge has said to me that he is okay but not sure I believe her.  He had said previously that noone had wanted to share a tent with him but in the end someone did but maybe that kid now having second thoughts.  Smiley Sad

Super contributor

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

I'm sure an overseas trip will more than make up for missing a camp. Robot wink

And yes, there is always next year.

 

Ugh, what a nightmare about the school camp. Is there a way you could find out from the school before hand what they think is likely to occur and, more importantly, what's their strategy for ensuring your son is suffciently cared for?

I think there is an unfortunate tendency that parents, kids AND schools sometimes have which is to feel like the kid with the 'issue' is somehow creating effort for everyone and should therefore be grateful for whatever they get. Which is ridiculous. You guys pay for that camp and your son attends in good faith. He has every right to enjoy himself as fully as the other kids do. If there's even a chance that your son may experience that level of exclusion, the school should be preparing for it.

And I apologise if I'm telling you things you already know. Smiley Happy

 

It's hard when we become a bit unaligned with our partners' parenting style, especially when there's big things happening but if it's any consolation, there's a lot of research now that suggests that kids aren't negatively impacted by having two parental approaches. It actually helps them see us as humans with individual feelings and beliefs etc.

Frequent scribe

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Thanks.  And yeah, unfortunately he only confided in me as to what was going on only day before they were meant to leave for the camp.  I did speak to various people at the school though who assured me that they would have people assigned to looking out for him and gave me a number to call to check up on him (although not speak to him directly).  I also got an assurance from them that if he said he was feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, they would phone us to drive up and get him (really hoping that wouldn't be the case).  One teacher who is already helping him with some academic stuff has been particularly good about going into bat for him and me both for the camp and for next term.  Before he left for the camp, son was saying he didn't even want to go back to the school next term so really, really hoping this will have changed by the time he gets back.   The old school really wasn't working for us for lots of reasons so don't want him to go back there nor to have him change to yet another school. 

 

the good news is that the local LGBT support group is meeting next Monday so hopefully son will be open to going to that and he will find some good support from likeminded peers at that. 

Super contributor

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

There's a lot of good stuff in there @hashtagmum A teacher who is in his corner, their promise to make sure to look out for him so his discomfort won't go unnoticed, and the reassurance that if it gets too bad you can go and get him. I know it's easy for me to say but there's a lot of positives there. Enough that you might even be able to relax and enjoy the time off. Perhaps?

 

Great to hear there's a group that's close enough to get to. Building a social group of peers who understand what he's going through can make a lot of difference . It's much easier to see discrimination for what it is when you aren't needing to make friends with the people doing it. If he feels connected somewhere, it can really help him increase his ability to cope with any nastiness.

 

I hope @Elena is around to share her views. 

Super frequent scribe

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Hi @hashtagmum just want to say how grateful I am to be here in this supportive group of fabulous parents who support their amazing talented children who take on others issues of themselves. When we finally find our authentic self we walk alone in this path until we believe in ourself.
When i was a young girl of 5 every year we would visit our dads family traveling 8 hours in the family car 6 children and mum & dad not pretty lol. Awaking the next day we would visit dads sisters and brothers. Dads cousin stayed with his sister. When dads cousin opened the front door excited to see us, wearing his curlers in his hair a ladies robe, I was so happy to see him. I never thought of him as gay, gay to me was joy joy hapoy happy. My beautiful authentic uncle was always his trueself. Then he moved to Australia as all our people do looking for love. Then a message got back to our dad he had died. This is when i found out what gay was. Why labe peoplel he is a human being like the rest of us. Our family accept all walks of life. Our beautiful nephew came out and told the family we were happy for him. He is a teacher at an all catholic school. We are privileged to meet his wonderful partner next week "yay" I think todays generation are more accepting. All the best to your beautiful son.
I believe we need to find faith in our children as some need a little more guidance but not to change their trueself. I hope this helps a little.

Super contributor

Re: How best to support gay teenager who has come out at school

Hey @Serapis22 Thank you so much for sharing your story. 

 

I did a small edit on your post. Just adding a @ then clicking on Hashtagmum when it came up. If you don't do that then the person you're talking to won't get an email notification and may miss it.

 

Have you watched the video walk-through yet? If not, click here and it will take you to it.