Teaching about homosexuality should take place in the context of general sex education, relationship education and health education, against the backdrop of the vision of marriage being a lifelong love commitment between one man and one woman. Addressing homosexuality as a standalone topic can otherwise portray to children a hypocrisy of their parents about what standards and issues can be talked about.
“Mummy, why are those two men kissing?” a young child may ask about a homosexual neighbour.
Keep your answers simple.1 A possible answer: “Some people think it’s okay for two men or women to love each other in the same way a Mummy and Daddy does. But our family doesn’t think this is right – God didn’t make man and woman that way. We should not be mean to them, though.”
Never lie. Don’t give false information, even when homosexuality is occurring in your home and you are tempted to “cover” for the sibling or spouse involved. Answer questions directly, giving information appropriate to the age of the child.
Exercise wisdom of timing. One father prayed for God’s perfect timing on telling his sons that their favourite cousin had embraced homosexuality. After the disclosure, his boys continued to love their cousin, and even changed their attitude towards homosexuals.
Acknowledge that the topic may refer to someone they admire or love. Just as you may have to explain that a much-loved aunt is also a gambling addict, convey compassion for those engaging in homosexual conduct, even while explaining why you disagree with their behaviour. Remember that your tone of voice, body language and actions towards that person speak louder than words, and that your child will take his cues from you.
Just as in sex education, it is important for parents to get in early with information about homosexuality. Failure to do so allows our children’s minds to be shaped by popular culture and the media, neither of which may share our views or values.
1. Love Won Out series: When a Loved One Says, “I’m Gay.” (Focus on the Family, 2002)