While talking on the phone with my son one afternoon, he says “Mom I have to tell you something.” Hearing the anxiousness in his voice I was concerned. What is it baby? Did something happen? He was the last of my three children living at home with my ex-husband in a different state. He seemed to be struggling with what he had to say. I was already planning the plane trip for the next day in my mind. You know you can tell me anything. I won’t judge you. He sighed and said “Mom I’m bisexual.” I was relieved that this was all that he had to say.” That’s it?” I asked. He said yes. I laughed and said “Baby you could be an ax murderer and I would still love you.” He sighed as he went on to tell me how he has agonized over telling me. He was afraid I would be angry and disappointed. I assured him that I didn’t think any less of him but also that I had no idea. I apologized for not knowing. He told me that he had been hiding it since he first realized it himself. I thanked him and praised him for having the courage to tell me.

One youth that I know well had went to school not knowing if she would be able to return. She left a letter to her mom explaining how she identified as a boy and was willing to risk her mother’s reaction. She said that she was also willing to leave if that’s what her mom wanted. Can you imagine the pain she was in when she wrote it? Or even packing a bag in case she was no longer welcome in her own home? Isn’t life hard enough for a teenager? Thankfully, her mother understood and stands by her transgender child.

Seven percent of millennial are members of the LGBTQ community. Of course that number isn’t exact because not all of them are out about their sexuality. Twenty-six percent of LGBTQ youth worry about not being accepted by their families. In the past, being homosexual, bisexual or anything else was not tolerated. Nobody talked about it or even admitted it. The fact is, LGBTQ people have always existed — secretly. Now LGBTQ members are becoming more accepted as part of modern society. That doesn’t make it any easier for the LGBTQ youth.

Not all parents are supportive of their LGBTQ children. One young man was afraid to tell his father and stepmother that he was transsexual. And for good reason! His parents found out when they saw a picture on Facebook of him wearing a wig. His father and stepmother were livid. They burned her clothes, told her to break up with her partner, threatened to send her to a conversion camp and that she was going to Hell. Her parents isolated her, only allowing her to go to school and work. They lived in a little town and people were always watching her and reporting to her parents. She had to read the bible every day and was living in fear for over a year before she turned 18 and left her parents home. She was homeless for some time before her friend’s family opened their home to her.

Her story is one of many horrible stories that our LGBTQ youth have had. The agony, isolation and abuse some have suffered because of who they are is appalling. Children should feel safe in their homes and loved by their family members. Being an LGBTQ youth is hard enough but not having a family that love and supports you can be devastating. The majority of LGBTQ youth live in a state of constant paranoia of parents, schoolmates, teachers and pastors. LGBTQ youth have the highest rate of suicide attempts in the country. We as a society need to put an end to this madness!

Understandably, a parent learning that their child is part of the LGBTQ community can be alarming. For some parents it goes against what they believe as right and moral. Parents may be reluctant to face the possibly of judgment by friends, family, co-workers etc. That does not excuse parents of their cruel conduct! Your son didn’t stop being a respectful, smart, caring young person because he has a boyfriend. He is still your child. He still needs your love and support. So what if he is attracted to the same sex.

Look, parents have certain expectations of their children and children struggle to meet those expectations. We as parents need to rise above all the controversy and encourage our children to be confident in who they are whether we agree with their lifestyle or not. We need to give our children the love and support they need especially in the face of criticism and ridicule. After all, isn’t it our job to love, support and protect our children? Why should their sexuality nullify our love for them?