Many families find it difficult to embrace children who identify as something other than a traditionally defined heterosexual. Since June is a month dedicated to LGBTQI-GNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and gender nonconforming) awareness, now is a good time to address the matter.
According to an analysis of several studies, children who fall into LGBTQI-GNC categories suffer from abuse at dramatically higher rates, especially sexual abuse, than their “straight”-identifying peers.
Fortunately, acceptance of sexual and gender orientations outside of the definition of “straight” is increasing. That doesn’t mean, however, that parents and care-givers are uniformly progressing toward this normalization.
It is necessary we recognize the right of adolescents to sexually develop and manifest themselves in accordance with individual preferences.
In Shelby County, one of my cases involves an adolescent male whose gay identity is not accepted by his father. The conflict became so intense that eventually the teen had to be removed. Fortunately, one of my male volunteers had a heart for the circumstance and happily agreed to take the case.
If our volunteers should find themselves presented with a case that involves an LGBTQI-GNC child, we ask that they be completely honest with their personal feelings on sexual identity and to pass on the case if they cannot fully support the child involved. Their supervisor will, without judgment, try to find another CASA for them. They—and the child—will have a better experience.
The best organization I have found to help caring adults understand these complex, deeply emotional issues is PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays). The Central Kentucky office has an especially helpful page of resources. There is a Louisville chapter as well.