If a student (or your child) comes out to you...
Here are a few suggestions for teachers on how to respond when one of your students reveals their bisexual or same-sex-oriented sexual orientation


  • Recognize that there are many gay, bisexual, and lesbian young people. Until now, you may not have been aware of your their sexual orientation but this is the same child they were before coming out to you.
  • Be yourself. 
  • Remember that the child may be terribly afraid since most teens know society says they are "wrong."
  • Use the vocabulary they use. If they say "homosexual," follow their lead. Likewise, if they say "gay" or "lesbian," use that term.  Use the term "same-sex feeling" if they appear uneasy with other vocabulary.
  • Be aware of your comfort and limitations. Do not add pain resulting from your judgment about sexuality, in general, or homosexuality, in particular.
  • Do your homework.  Find out about sexuality and sexual orientation.  PFLAG, a support organization for parents, can help: http://www.pflag.org  
  • Remember, it doesn't take a homosexual adult to help a homosexual child.
  • Thank the child for trusting you.
  • You have an obligation to respect the child’s right to privacy and confidentiality.  Don’t discuss their personal details with others.
  • If the child is having trouble with harassment or abuse because of their sexual orientation, complete an incident report and refer the child to the national Gay & Lesbian Hate Crimes Hotline (208-246-2292).  There may be additional resources available in your area.
Ask yourself these questions:
    • Does the child have friends he or she can trust with the information?
    • Do parents know? What would happen if they knew?
    • If parents cannot be supportive, are there other adults available for support?
Don't say:

     •    How do you know? 
     •    Are you sure?
     •    You will get over it when the right man/woman comes along.
     •    I don't agree with it, but I still like you. 
     •    Have you tried dating the opposite sex? 
     •    You will grow out of it. It's only a phase. 
     •    Do you think God is punishing you? 
     •    Some of my best friends are. 
     •    Have you tried to change?
     •    I accept you, but I don't agree with your choice.
     •    You are not normal! You are sick. 
     •    You don't look like one. 
     •    How did that happen?
     •    Don't you want to have children? 
     •    I don t want to hear about it.
     •    You do have a problem. 
     •    What is wrong with you?
     •    You are going to get AIDS.  It's a gay disease.
     •    I don't dislike homosexuals.  It's what they do that I dislike.
     •    Your family will reject you. You won't be able to have a happy life.
     •    Why don't you try to act more masculine (or feminine)?
     •    You will embarrass the family. 
     •    Your parents won t love you. 
     •    You need counseling.
     •    Where did I go wrong? (Parent) 
     •    Why are you doing this? 
     •    I am so sorry for you.
     •    You'll never have a loving, long-lasting relationship.


This page was adapted from a paper prepared as a reference for teachers when faced with situations that may inherently generate homophobia and a hostile environment to gay and lesbian youth or students with lesbian and gay family members and friends. We realize that not everyone will feel comfortable with all of these suggestions. However, since our primary goal is to stop the name-calling and to create a safe environment for all of our students, actions teachers take should reflect this goal.


For more information, contact LAMBDA GLBT Community Services, PO Box 31321, El Paso, TX 79931-0321, 208-246-2292, email us, http://www.lambda.org