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)
It is not uncommon for toddlers and pre-schoolers to exhibit behaviours typically associated with the opposite sex, as gender roles are still in development. Boys in kindergarten may be happy to play “girly” games like dress-up, while girls may insist on behaving “just like the boys”. Not all atypical gender interests should cause concern, so be careful not to humiliate your child because of an occasional episode.1
Parents should be concerned if, in addition to demonstrating behaviours and interests of the opposite sex, their child expresses:
- a persistent desire to be, or insistence that he/she is, the other sex
- a persistent and strong discomfort with his/her own sex and gender role
If this is observed, parents should seek the guidance and expertise of a psychotherapist who believes that change is possible.2 There is always hope: Development into a heterosexual gender identity is possible.
Development of gender identity typically goes through the following stages:3
- Attachment to same-gender parent.
- Boys require an additional step of identifying with Father after separating from Mother.
- Attachment to same-gender siblings and playmates.
- Identification with same-gender role models or heroes during play.
- Curiosity towards opposite-gender peers with complementary qualities.
- Children who are unable to form healthy levels of attachment in their relationships may become easy prey for sexual predators.
- Self-conscious about emerging man-/ womanhood.
- Same- and opposite-gender identification with other authority figures.
- Opposite-gender social relationships can develop into more exclusive and romantic interests. Increasingly, heavy media exposure has resulted in this happening at an earlier age.
|21 & above
- Commitment in romantic relationships with a member of the opposite-gender can lead to intimacy that culminates in sexual relations within marriage.
1. Mike Haley, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality(Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004)
2. Joseph Nicolosi and Linda A. Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Illinois InterVarsity Press, 2002)
Counters procreation. Human reproduction is biologically impossible between two people of the same sex; homosexuality undermines the longstanding institution and an innate purpose of the family. This has implications especially for a nation like Singapore that is trying so hard to encourage married couples to have (more) children. If the evidence is true that homosexual couples are more likely to raise children who subsequently identify as homosexual1, this would further impede efforts at building a sustainable population for Singapore’s future.
Poorer outcomes for children. Research reveals that children raised by homosexual couples experience more problems than children raised by married heterosexual parents, with lower academic, social, emotional and relational outcomes. Such children also reported earlier sexual experimentation and are at greater risk of sexual confusion, exploitation, and abuse.2/3
Note: Although some studies (such as the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study4) have shown that children raised by homosexual parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents, they have methodological limitations which call their credibility into question.5/6/7 For one, they have been conducted by persons who are known for homosexual activism.8 There is significantly more research to the contrary.
Perpetuates abuse. Studies have shown that homosexual people report having been the victim of more homosexual abuse (7 times more for male homosexuals and 22 times more for female homosexuals) than their heterosexual counterparts.9 At the same time, research reveals that homosexual persons commit about half of recorded child molestation cases, and homosexual teachers were involved in 80% of recorded teacher-pupil sexual interactions.10
2. Mark Regnerus, How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings From the New Family Structures Study
(Social Science Research, 2012, Vol 41(4), pp 752-770)
3. Peter Sprigg, New Study on Homosexual Parents Tops All Previous Research
(Family Research Council, accessed on 15 July 2014)
4. Nanette Gartell and Henny Bos, Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives
(Journal of Homosexuality, 2012, Vol 59, pp 1211-1299)
5. Glenn Stanton, Revealing Facts on Same-Sex Parenting from Latest Research
, (GlennStanton.com, 7 March 2012)
6. Timothy Dailey, Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk (Family Research Council, Issue No.: 238,October 2001)
7. Glenn Stanton, Examining the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study
, (FocusOnTheFamily.com, February 2012)
8. Glenn Stanton, The Ins-and-Outs of the New Regnerus/UT Austin Study on Same-Sex Parenting
, (GlennStanton.com, 13 June 2012)
9. ME Tomeo, DI Templer, S Anderson, and D Kotler, Comparative Data of Childhood and Adolescence Molestation in Heterosexual and Homosexual Persons
(Arch Sex Behavior, October 2001; 30(5), pp 535-541)
10. George Frater, Our Humanist Heritage
(USA, 2010, pp 198)
Children can be mean, and even at their best, be insensitively frank. Whenever possible, stop others from name-calling such as “Tomboy [nickname]!” or making derogatory remarks, such as, “You’re such a sissy!”
Equip them to face peer pressure and counter bullying. Help your child to differentiate what is being said about them from their real identity as a developing young man/ woman, and respond to taunts with words rather than fists: “It’s not nice or right to call people names.”
Build up your child’s sense of self and worth. Positively call out and affirm the masculinity in your son (“That was very gentlemanly of you!”) and femininity in your daughter (“I’m glad my little princess showed kindness”). At the same time, assure your child that as a unique individual, he/ she does not have to conform to stereotypical gender roles to be loveable.
Engage in gender-typical activities together. For example, Dad can teach Son to throw and catch a ball; Mum can do her nails with Daughter. Children benefit most from the bonding with and role modelling by their same-sex parent. Mirror for them from young what it means to be male/ female, including accepting their body as the physical representation of their gender.
You should become concerned only when your child continues in frequent activities that are more typical of the opposite sex, and begins to adopt other habits and mannerisms, e.g., Son uses Mum’s makeup and later becomes fascinated with female accessories and acts more girlish than Mum or Sister.
Together with your spouse, recognize the underlying issues that may be contributing to your child’s gender confusion, agree to work together to help resolve them, and seek the guidance and expertise of a counsellor or psychotherapist who believes that change is possible.1
1. Joseph Nicolosi and Linda A. Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Illinois InterVarsity Press, 2002)