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Parent Suspects That Child Might Be Gay

If I think that my teen might be same-sex attracted, how should I talk to him about it? He's mentioned the subject several times, so I'm getting concerned.
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First, a word of encouragement: It’s a hopeful sign that your son has brought up the subject of homosexuality!

Nothing is more important than open communication between parent and child — especially when it comes to questions about sexuality and gender identity. So before doing anything else, you might want to try drawing your son out. You might ask, “What made you curious about this?”

If you listen carefully and respond wisely, he might share more of his thought processes. This can lead to a helpful discussion of the subject. It will also strengthen your bond — and a good parent-child relationship is one of the best lines of defense against homosexuality.

Hearing your child’s heart

Joe Dallas, an expert in this field, says that there are three different ways the word “homosexuality” is used:

  • The word can refer to a homosexual condition or orientation — when an individual is sexually aroused primarily by members of the same sex. This condition is involuntary, and it usually appears early in life.
  • “Homosexuality” can be used to mean specifically homosexual behavior — in other words, sexual contact with a person of the same sex.
  • The word is often used to describe a frame of mind when a person sees homosexuality as a primary identifying characteristic (usually accompanied by acceptance of homosexuality as being normal and moral). A “homosexual” in this sense of the term is an individual who identifies as “gay.”

Keep all that in mind as you think about what your son tells you. It’s possible that he’s been having same-sex sexual arousal (the first description above). But those feelings aren’t unusual or uncommon in early adolescence. You can explain to your son that feelings are temporary and unreliable and shouldn’t form the foundation of someone’s personal identity. Feelings aren’t proof that anyone is “born gay.”

Not sure that’s the case with your son?

Signs of pre-homosexuality

Some signs of pre-homosexuality show up early in a child’s life as what might be called “cross-gender behavior.” Five markers, in particular, can determine whether a boy or girl is a likely candidate for gender identity disorder:

  • A recurring desire to be the opposite sex — or an insistence that they are the opposite sex.
  • An affinity to cross-dress.
  • A strong and persistent preference for cross-sexual roles in make-believe play; persistent fantasies of being the opposite sex.
  • An intense desire to participate in stereotypical games and hobbies of the opposite sex.
  • A strong preference for friends of the opposite sex.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in your son — or if conversations with him give you serious concern about his sexual identity — don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. You might even want to encourage your son to take advantage of counseling to calm any fears he has.

Where to find help

We realize this is a complicated subject. Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors would be glad to talk with you in more detail. They can also give you a local counselor referral from our carefully screened network.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity & Femininity

101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality

Healing the Masculine Soul

Growth Into Manhood: Resuming the Journey

Bringing Up Boys

The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be

The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge: Three Weeks to a Better Relationship with your Kids

Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Your Son Needs to Thrive

Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World

Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most

I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys

Ten Boys Who Changed the World

Ten Boys Who Used Their Talents

Ten Boys Who Made a Difference

Devotions to Make You Smarter

Nurturing a Healthy Gender Identity in Your Child

Understanding Male Homosexuality: God’s Power to Change Lives

The Talk

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership

National Center for Fathering

Desert Stream Ministries

Restored Hope Network

Reach Truth

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership 

Is My Teen Struggling With Homosexuality?

Responding to Teen Child Who Says He’s Gay

Support for Parents of Child Who Says He’s Gay

Answering Parents’ Questions on Gender Confusion in Children

Your Child’s Personality

Healthy Childhood Sexual Development

Teaching Children Healthy Sexuality


Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria and Informed Consent

Understanding Homosexuality

Copyright © 2010, 2020, Focus on the Family.

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