This year on Wear It Purple Day we're encouraging everyone to focus on the important conversations we have in our daily life around sexuality and gender identity.
Wear it Purple was founded in 2010 in response to stories of teenagers taking their own lives following bullying and harassment due to a lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity. Its aim is simple – to foster supportive, safe and accepting environments for young people, to avoid disadvantage and ensure their wellbeing.
Everybody deserves to feel safe and seen in their community, particularly those who may be marginalised or at risk, particularly young people who are vulnerable to discrimination and bullying.
Stockland believes there is a better way to live, and we extend that belief to creating an inclusive culture where our communities can feel welcome to be their true selves.
So remember to wear purple on Friday 27 August to show young rainbow people they aren't alone, and empower them to be proud of who they are every day.
If you have a young person or child in your life who is discovering their sexuality or gender identity, it's important to show your support for them as it can be a tough time. Perhaps you don't quite know where to begin, which is why Stockland CARE Foundation partner ReachOut Australia have put together some helpful tips so you can show the person you are a partner in this process and they don't have to do it alone.
This article is based on Supporting teens with their sexuality and Being open and approachable, originally published on ReachOut.com
Ways to be open and approachable:
● show a genuine interest in how they see themselves, what they think, and what they’re experiencing
● offer to practice how to respond to negative comments, or how to approach telling other people
● ask questions, and listen
● empathise with them, share your experiences, and just be there for them
● show them you are supportive of whatever decision they make and that you will love them whatever their sexuality, gender identity, or however they express themselves
● encourage them to keep you in the know about how they feel and what they want to do about it. Tell them you’re happy to help them look for more information or to talk to others on their behalf if they want you to.
People are often aware of their sexuality or their gender from a very young age, but they don’t necessarily have the words to express it. Whether or not your child is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, it’s important that you help them feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
Here are some helpful conversation starters that you might want to use with your child, that we know can be effective, based on current research and psychology:
● some people are attracted to just one type of person or gender; other people are attracted to many different people. Either is ok
● people don’t have to choose right away if they’re straight or gay or something else. Everyone should take all the time they need to figure out what they feel and what they want to call it
● similarly, gender isn’t always as simple as whether we’re a boy or a girl
● In our society, there are often a lot of different opinions about how people should dress and act, based on their biological gender. Regardless of what others think, people should be free to choose what feels right for them
● sometimes inside people feel like they are more of a boy, or a girl, or that being either doesn’t feel right for them. It’s okay to feel different inside
● everyone has the right to choose what they want to be identified as and what they want people to call them.
Managing your own feelings about your teen’s future
LGBTQIA+ teens shouldn’t be rushed into talking about their sexuality before they’re ready. It takes time for them to understand themselves. This is also true for their parents.
● You may be open and accepting, but still upset with the idea of your teen being gay or queer because you worry about their future. Although they do face discrimination, young people who have come out report being significantly happier than those who haven’t.
● Don’t blame anyone. Sexuality is never anyone’s fault. Thinking in these terms suggests that you think this part of your teen is a bad thing, which it isn’t.
● The greatest fear for LGBTQIA+ teens is that their friends and family will reject them. The best way to ensure your teen’s wellbeing is to show them love and support, even if you don’t understand everything yet.
● If you feel worried or stressed, it’s important that you take care of yourself. You can learn here about self-care, and about how you can help yourself and your teen to stay strong and thrive.
You can find more suggestions and help at ReachOut, including:
● How to lead by example and creating and open, respectful environment within the home
● Sexuality and teenagers
● Gender and teenagers
● Online forums where both parents and teenagers can find support.