Speaking to your children about gender and sexuality is a necessary part of raising a child in the modern era.
Raising children is the most challenging and rewarding job a parent can undertake. For most parents, raising kind, happy and healthy children is the goal. But, this is not always easy when you have to parent in a rapidly changing society. As attitudes about different identities and sexualities change and the topic becomes more mainstream, parents find themselves having to talk to their children about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) matters.
According to a survey conducted by The Other Foundation, just over half a million South Africans identify as gender nonconforming. The survey, titled Progressive Prudes: A survey of attitudes towards homosexuality and gender nonconformity in South Africa, found that 530 000 South Africans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other. But, learning that your child may not be heterosexual or having a dialogue about LGBTQI issues can be challenging if you don’t know how to approach the subject. “We know that our families follow traditions and customs, and that these customs are not inclusive or tolerant,” says Happy Phaleng, spokesperson for OUT, a Pretoria-based organisation that supports LGBTQI communities. Happy adds that fear could also come from the stigma in communities. This stigma is not unwarranted given the fact that the survey found that 7 out of 10 South Africans found homosexual sex and breaking gender norms to be “wrong” and “disgusting”. Additionally, research released by Love Not Hate in 2016, shows that the lived reality of many LGBTQI people in South Africa is not as rosy as it appears. This is despite the fact that South Africa was fifth in the world and first on the continent to legalise same-sex marriages 12 years ago. Love Not Hate is a nationwide multi-partner initiative addressing violence against LGBTQI people. Many LGBTQI people are still the victims of strong homoprejudice. The research also found that 14% of Gauteng residents supported violence against gay and lesbian people.
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