If Your Parents Struggled to Discuss Sex With You, They Aren’t Alone

A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University’s medical school found that parents of LGBTQ teenagers have special trouble talking to their teens about sex. The reasons parents have trouble having a gay sex talk with their teens are because of awkwardness, ignorance and discomfort with issues relating to queer sexuality.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy, interviewed 44 parents of LGBTQ-identified adolescents ages 13 to 17. They found that parents largely don’t know what same-sex encounters are actually like and aren’t sure what to advise for prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) between same-sex partners

One mother in the study commented, “My challenge around talking about sex is that I have no idea what sex is really like for men, especially for gay men.” Another said she felt isolated, stating, “I don’t have an opportunity to talk to other parents whose kids are LGBTQ.”

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“We need resources to help all parents, regardless of their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, overcome the awkwardness and discomfort that can result from conversations about sexual health,” said Michael E. Newcomb, associate director for scientific development at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Several other studies reinforce the need for parents to be more comfortable discussing sex with queer teens, especially since young men who have sex with men are more likely to experience rape or potentially expose themselves to STIs during a sexual encounter.

A previous Northwestern University study of gay and bisexual males between ages 14 and 17 found that most rarely, if ever, talked to their parents about sex. And even when they did, “the conversations were brief and focused exclusively on HIV and condom use.”

Another study found that when LGBTQ teens turn to the internet for sexual health info online, they’re often scared about outing themselves by leaving a digital footprint and unsure what to search for, meaning that the internet is no substitute for a caring and well-informed parent.

What do you think about parents too nervous to have a gay sex talk with their LGBTQ teens? Sound off in the comments.