It May Be Getting Easier for Kids to Come Out to Their Parents

A new survey finds that more American parents are comfortable with having gay and lesbian children.
Kahne Richard with her daughter, Catherine. (Photo: Courtesy Kahne Richard)
Jul 3, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Michael Schramm is a University of Michigan student covering social justice and economics. His work has appeared in USA Today and The Michigan Daily.

This week, Pew released a survey that found more American parents are comfortable with having gay and lesbian children. Fifty-seven percent of parents surveyed said they wouldn’t be upset if their child was gay or lesbian, while 39 percent of parents said they’d be upset. Three decades ago, 89 percent of American adults said they’d be upset if their child came out as gay.

The data comes at an extraordinary moment of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the U.S. and around the world. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of all Americans—including same-sex couples—to legally marry. Diverse images of LGBT people are pervasive in popular culture: A new documentary, Growing Up Trans, tells the stories of transgender children and their parents. On the television show Glee, one character, Kurt, tells his father that he’s gay and is accepted. In a recent Vanity Fair article, Caitlyn Jenner recalled her elderly mother being comfortable with her gender transition—at one point saying “OK, good-bye, Caitlyn,” at the end of a phone conversation.

However, these trends aren’t indicative of total equality for LGBT people. Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. Some states include policies that restrict discussion of LGBT-related topics in public schools. And many states lack policies to prevent the bullying of children perceived to be LGBT.

Despite these difficulties, increased parental acceptance indicates more allies joining the fight for LGBTQ equality. Here are some stories of LGBT children and their parents.

Kahne Richard with her daughter, Catherine. (Photo: Courtesy Kahne Richard)

Kahne Richard, 37, lives in New Orleans with her 16-year-old daughter, Catherine. Last year, Catherine told her mother that she’s pansexual, explaining that she likes girls in addition to boys. Kahne says it took some time to accept that her daughter may never find a “prince charming.” Nevertheless, she says she totally accepts her daughter. “She’s really happy, and that’s what matters,” Kahne told TakePart.

Carmen Schaper with her son, Daniel. (Photo: Courtesy Carmen Schaper)

Carmen Schaper, 58, lives with her 26-year-old son, Daniel, in Bellflower, California. When Daniel was in the 10th grade, he flirted with another male student, prompting the school’s principal to call Carmen. That’s how she learned Daniel is gay. “It was a total shock for me,” she recalls. Carmen was raised in a conservative family and says she was depressed after learning her son is gay. She spent time reflecting on the situation and, eventually, came to accept it. “Seeing that there is so much social stigma against LGBT people out there, I only want the best for my son,” she says.

Penny Nicholas with her daughter, Danielle McKenzie. (Photo: Courtesy Penny Nicholas)

Penny Nicholas, 46, is Danielle McKenzie’s mother. Danielle, 24, is studying screenwriting at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Penny says she had a feeling that Danielle was a lesbian when she was eight, but Danielle didn’t say she was gay until she turned 16, one day after school. “I pulled her to me, hugged her tightly, and said, ‘I am so proud of you for becoming your authentic self!’ ” Penny recalls.