“Mom, I have something to tell you…I’m gay”.
“Dad…I think I am in the wrong body, I think that I am really a boy”.
One of the most difficult and life changing statements a parent can hear is that of their child coming out to them. When your daughter tells you she’s a lesbian or your three year old son insists that God made a mistake and he is really a girl, what do you do? Like a bomb being dropped, this revelation has the potential to tear families apart. Parents often feel scared, angry, confused, anxious, hopeless, and very alone. Their hopes and dreams for their children are shaken and replaced with fears of discrimination, AIDS, and stigma. What do you do? To whom do you turn? For parents of the Christian faith, the questions may be even more complicated. What does the Bible say? How will my church react? Will my child go to hell? What does this mean for my faith? How do I protect my child? How do I respond in unconditional love?
If you are the parent of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning child and you are looking for help, you have come to the right place! We would love to talk with you and come alongside you on this journey. We would love to hear your story, questions, concerns, etc. and try to provide you with resources that fit your family and faith. Please contact our Director of Family and Youth, Laura, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-572-5983. To read some of our blogs written for parents: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/loveisanorientation/category/parents-families/
One thing we have learned from Christian parents of LGBTQ children is that the most helpful resource to them is being able to talk to or meet with other parents who are on the same journey. Therefore we are compiling a list of Christian parents with LGBTQ children who are willing to listen to, cry with, laugh with, and come alongside other parents. You will be able to call or email parents all over the United States and ask for advice or simply share your story. The list will be up soon so stay tuned!
The Parent Resource Initiative
When The Marin Foundation began to put together this page of Resources for Parents, we realized something. Existing resources for Christian parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and questioning children can be difficult to find and often mirror current culture wars, providing no way for parents to keep their faith AND love their child. Yet every year, The Marin Foundation receives numerous requests for guidance and advice from the parents and families of LGBT and questioning children. Therefore, the Marin Foundation is conducting a research study called the Parent Resource Initiative in order to identify the needs of Christian parents of LGBT and questioning children and develop new resources to help them in this journey.
Phase One: Research and Development (completed)
Before we can develop new resources, we needed to hear and understand parents’ stories. Therefore we interviewed and surveyed more than 230 Christian parents of LGBT and questioning children as well as others involved in supporting families. We were looking for a representative sample of parents from all over the United States, of all ages, ethnicities and ranges of Christian beliefs. Whether their child came out to them two days ago or twenty years ago, we wanted to hear about their experience.
Participants were interviewed and asked to fill out an online survey. The interviews generally took one to two hours and were done in person (within Chicago area), over the phone, or through Skype. The survey was online and took about thirty minutes to complete. All information is kept confidential.
We wanted to provide a safe space for Christian parents to share their story without fear of condemnation or judgment. Regardless of their religious, cultural, political, or other views on this subject, we wanted to know what this experience has been like for them.
Phase Two: Data Analysis and Resource Review
Data analysis has begun! Regent University in Virginia is one of the universities analyzing the interviews.
Simultaneously, we have begun a comprehensive review of existing resources for Christian parents of LGBT children. This will help us determine what resources are helpful for parents and what resources are harmful for parents. The results of this resource review will be compiled into a webpage as a guide for parents.
Phase Three and Beyond: Curriculum Development and Trials
After the data has been analyzed we will begin developing a myriad of resources for Christian parents. We are still determining exactly what forms these resources will take but we will have a multimedia approach that most likely includes print media, video media, guide books for churches/pastors/individual parents, and web resources. We will test and refine these resources through leading pilot support groups for Christian parents of LGBT children here in Chicago.
How You Can Help:
At this point we have completed all of the interviews that we plan to conduct. However, if there is a resource that has been particularly helpful to you in your journey as a Christian parent of an LGBT or questioning child then we would love to hear from you. If you are a counselor or professional who works with Christian parents then we would love to interview you about your work. Finally, you can financially support the completion of the Parent Resource Initiative here: http://www.themarinfoundation.org/giving/ Please check “On behalf of” and enter PRI for “Tribute Name”.