Many parents of teenagers have their hands full, to put it lightly. Being a parent is not an easy job. You have to work on your own issues and those of your children. LGBT teens have particular health issues that need to be addressed and many heterosexual parents are either not aware of them or they don’t know where to start when it comes to helping their teens be healthy. Here are some steps you can take to help your teenager:
Seek out a pediatrician who is LGBT-friendly
This is important because your child might not be comfortable with the doctor they had in childhood. You may find a healthcare provider that’s LGBT or who is an ally. In order to find out, you must ask them. It’s also possible that they will be listed online. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has a database that is searchable by zip code.
Look into mental health care
Even if your teenager doesn’t appear to have signs of mental distress, they might. They might need someone with whom they can speak and feel comfortable saying things that they may not with a parent. Check out GLMA’s website for this information if you want. Also, consider someone to talk with for your own needs.
Remember that safe sex is still important
If your teen is with a same-sex partner, they still need to learn about safe sex practices. Make sure they’re tested for HIV and STIs and follow up with testing regularly. Make sure they know how to protect themselves in many ways, including not allowing themselves to be pressured into having sex before they’re ready.
Vaccinations are important
Health care providers are not recommending that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is given to girls and boys. It’s important to get them vaccinated. For example, health care providers recommend that men who have sex with men (MSM) are given vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B, HPV, and the flu (annually) to begin with.
Keep watch of their online personas
This is important for everyone, whether or not they have LGBT kids. Your children are vulnerable to being lured into unsafe experiences or relationships by predatory adults. Make sure to pay attention to their online activity and have talks with them about how they appear in their online world. A harsh and constant reality is that bullying and violence against LGBT people exists; this includes child abuse and exploitation.
Speak about substance use/abuse
LGBT people are at a higher risk for substance abuse. Talk with your kids about the risks and the pressures they might face. If your child has a problem, seek treatment.
Love them unconditionally
Good health depends a great deal on a child’s supportive, loving environment.