Progressive change happens with education. Children learn about the various family structures early on in school: nuclear, blended, extended and single-parent. Anything that veers from this very limited teaching can seem weird or “wrong” in their fragile minds. As they grow up and matriculate through middle and high school, they take sex education courses and learn about abstinence, safe sex practices, STD’s and human reproduction—but the questions regarding sex between like genders are often left unaddressed, especially in more conservative regions of the country.
Because homosexuality is barely, if at all, addressed in school, parents have even more of a responsibility to teach their children about varying sexual orientations. What do you teach your children about gay people? Do you teach them that homosexuality is right? Wrong? Do you mention it at all? The argument is not that parents need to teach their children to support gay relationships, especially in the event that doing so is a religious or moral contradiction. But at the very least, parents should teach their children tolerance and instill in them the principle that all people are equal and deserve to be treated as such, regardless of any differences among us.
Children need to know that love will not always be as simple as man and woman. But it may be man and man or woman and woman, and that it doesn’t make people “bad” or less deserving of kind and fair treatment. I believe that if parents made a more conscious commitment to teach our young, it would eventually lead to fewer negative stigmas associated with being gay and as a result, less discrimination and ignorance to the unknown would occur. Not only will it initiate a shift in society’s thinking, but it will also encourage children who are gay to feel more comfortable and less fearful of owning their true sexual identity.