SEXUALITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER
Information for Parents
Sexual Health and Relationships are important issues for everyone, regardless of sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity. Research has shown that young people are more likely to talk to a Youth Worker rather than a parent when it comes to these issues.
Sexuality is much more than body parts and sex, sexuality is an important part of who we are, what we believe, what we feel, and how we respond to others. It is shaped by such things as our values and beliefs, attitudes and experiences. It can be expressed in the way you speak, smile, stand, sit, dress, dance, laugh and cry. It can be fluid and change over time.
Sexual orientation relates to who people find romantically and sexually attractive. Some people from an early age are very sure of their sexual orientation, some people are less sure and a person’s sexual orientation can change over time. It is not known for sure what causes a person’ sexual orientation but you cannot tell by the way people look, dress, their jobs or hobbies.
Some sexual orientation terms: (From LGBT Youth Scotland)
- Heterosexual/Straight - Used to describe people who are emotionally and/or physically attracted to people of the ‘opposite’ gender.
- Gay: is someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Some women prefer to refer to themselves as gay women rather than lesbian, although the word gay is commonly used in reference to men.
- Lesbian: is a woman who is emotionally and/or physically attracted to other women.
- Bisexual: describes someone who is emotionally and/or physically to people of more than one gender or regardless of gender. Historically definitions of bisexual refer to ‘an attraction towards men and women’ however many bisexual people recognise that there are more than two genders
- Homosexual - A person whose emotional and/ or physical attraction is toward people of the same gender as themselves. Historically this term has been used to medicalise or criminalise lesbian and gay people and many experience it as a stigmatising term. It is now considered best practice to avoid it.
- Gender – Refers to the attitudes, feelings and behaviours that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. The terms girl/woman, boy/man are assigned at birth on the basis of biological sex and have many socially constructed expectations, standards and norms that can limit and oppress people’s gender expression.
- Transgender - An umbrella term for those whose gender identity or expression differs in some way from the gender assigned to them at birth and conflicts with the ‘norms’ expected by the society they live in. Included in the overall transgender umbrella are transsexual people, non-binary gender identities and cross-dressing people.
- Gender dysphoria - Is when a person feels there is a mis-match between their biological sex that is either male or female (which is decided at birth depending on how your genitals look) and their gender identity, which is what the person feels themselves to be. People with gender dysphoria can feel this way from a young age and may feel quite sure their gender identity does not match their biological sex, and only feel comfortable when they are in the 'right' gender role. They may also have a strong need to hide the body parts that do not feel 'right'.
- Trans Man - A transgender person who was assigned female at birth but whose gender identity is that of a man. Trans men should be treated as men and male pronouns should be used.
- Trans Woman - A transgender person who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman. Trans women should be treated as women and female pronouns should be used.
- Intersex – A person whose chromosomes, reproductive organs or genitalia vary in some way from what is traditionally considered clearly male or female in terms of biological sex. This may be apparent at birth or become apparent later in life - often at puberty, or in the case of some women, when they conceive or try to conceive.
- Gender fluid - Having an overlap of, or constantly changeable gender identity and gender expression. This can include having two or more genders, having no gender, or having a fluctuating gender identity.
Further information on Transgender
What do you do if your child comes to you to tell you they are having issues with their sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity?
- Remember that your child may have been working up to this for a long time and that it is probably one of the most difficult things they have had to do.
- Try to remain calm when they are talking to you – this will help them to stay calm and will allow them to talk freely.
- Be as honest as you can. If you are finding it difficult, then let your child know this, but be clear that you are not judging them for it.
- Don’t make assumptions - if you need clarity on some of what is being said, ask.
- Explore what your child wants to do next. If they need more information or want to talk to someone else.
- Remember that you are human too and that you might need some help to get through this too.
- Speak to someone you trust about it. This can help you process your thoughts.
If you need any more information or would like to talk to someone then call the LGBT Centre in Dumfries to talk to one of our trained staff – 01387 255058.
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