How to help your child if they are being bullied for being LGBTQ+

Image: George Paulwels

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying is a significant problem in UK schools, with more than half of LGBT young people saying they have been bullied because of their sexual orientation. And 45% of bullied pupils never tell anyone because they’re too embarrassed. So, if your child confides in you, be proud that they trust you and were brave enough to seek help.

How to help your child if they're being bullied 

  • Some parents find out their child is LGBT for the first time when they’re made aware of a bullying incident. This can be very upsetting but try not to take it personally that they hadn't already come out to you. People come out at different times and for different reasons, many of which have nothing to do with anyone else. It might be helpful for you to look at our article on what to do when you think your child may be gay.
  • It’s also useful to remember that not everyone who experiences HBT bullying is LGBT. Young people who act in ways that their peers consider unusual for their gender might also be targeted – such as boys who don’t take an interest in sport.
  • Parents should react to HBT bullying in the same way they’d react to any type of bullying –our articles on what to do if your child is being bullied and Ten Steps to Tackling Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Language in Your School have lots of useful tips.
  • Our Further Reading section below has plenty of resources specifically for LGBT young people and their families.

How to help your child if they are bullying others

 It can be saddening and shocking to discover your child is involved in HBT bullying.

  • Often this kind of behaviour stems from ignorance and a lack of awareness of how much unkind words and actions may affect somebody else. Some young people see words like 'gay' as casual insults and may not realise their impact. Make sure they know the long-term effects this kind of bullying can have. Ask them to imagine how they’d feel if someone started picking on them because of who they are.
  • It’s likely your child picked up this behaviour from a peer group. Ask them if these values are consistent with the kind of person they want to be and encourage them to spend time with other friends that don’t treat people like this.
  • There’s no excuse for intolerance but, regardless of what your child thinks about LGBT people, they should know that HBT bullying is very serious. Outside of a school environment it could be seen as homophobic harassment or hate crime and at work could be cause for dismissal. Framing it like this can help them to understand the severity of their behaviour. 
  • Finding out your child has been bullying others will probably make you feel angry or disappointed but remember that picking on other people can be a sign of deeper personal issues related to self-esteem. If so, it may be helpful to seek additional support.

Further help and advice

Parent Zone's LGBTQ+ Hub

Stonewall

Young Stonewall 

Find a support group in your area here 

Rucomingout.com is a forum where LGBTQ+ people can share their coming out stories

Support for young trans people:

Gendered Intelligence 

Mermaids 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the view of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: November 2018

Experts: 
Creative Commons Licence

Health and wellbeing

Color: 
Pink