Dealing with questions of gender and sexual orientation

From a very young age, kids are faced with many messages and expectations about what it means to be a boy or girl, man or woman. MediaSmarts has developed some very useful resources for parents to help their children understand, recognize, and stand up to the gender stereotypes in their world. And the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development explores the latest research on how very young children learn about gender roles in it's entry called Gender: early socialization.

Gender identity and sexual orientation can be difficult topics for kids, and their families. Children who are raised by same-sex partners and young people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersex, questioning or queer can face even bigger challenges, especially in school.

It’s completely normal for children to engage in play that defies traditional norms about gender. For example, if a little boy dresses up as a princess, or a little girl goes around with short hair and boy’s clothing, it doesn’t mean they’re gay or lesbian, or that they’re confused about their gender. But, it could. And, that’s okay.

It’s increasingly clear that sexual orientation isn’t a question of choice. It’s something that’s determined biologically in the brain. You can read more about this in this e-mentalhealth.ca article.

Similarly, transgender children children whose physical/genetic sex doesn’t match their own self- perceptions are also hardwired to think of themselves differently. This article provides really helpful information: Gender Identity and Diversity: Information for Parents and Caregivers

If you or your child are looking for professional advice on matters relating to gender or sexuality, get in touch with your family doctor or a psychologist, or check out the resources available at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

For help right now, your child can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

PFLAG Canada - an organization representing the parents and friends of lesbians and gays - has come up with a useful list of terms and definitions dealing with gender and sexuality. 

Other resource centres in the Sudbury area are The Sudbury Action Centre for Youth at (705) 673-4396 and Sudbury Rainbow Families (705 983-2011), an organization representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and couples who are raising families in the Greater Sudbury area.

You may also contact TG Innerselves at (705) 673-4396.  They offer social support groups, provide sensitivity training, and meet with transgender clients one on one.  www.tginnerselves.com

Finally, check out the sections of this website that deal with counselling and bullying for additional resources.

 

 

This content was prepared and reviewed by the City of Greater Sudbury and its partners. However, it should not take the place of advice from your health care provider or other professionals working with you and your child. 

Notice a broken link or an error or omission in this content? Email beststart@greatersudbury.ca to let us know.