In light of recent incidents of LGBT bullying and assaults, AP reporter Beth Harpaz writes:
"With bullying, teen suicides and harassment of gay teenagers making headlines, parents may be wondering what role they can play in discouraging kids from tormenting others whom they perceive as different.
"Homosexuality remains a controversial issue in some communities. But nobody wants to see their child victimized. And nobody wants their kid involved in an incident that might lead a peer to hurt himself or herself."
Experts say that parents should watch their language. Prejudicial or derogatory comments may make children afraid to talk to their parents about LGBT issues. Children should be taught to respect and accept differences in others.
Another way parents can help is to create an atmosphere of acceptance so that children don't feel that they need to hide their sexual orientation.
President Barack Obama speaks out about bullying and encourages young adults to reach out to parents, teachers, anyone they feel close to for strength and help if they are being bullied.
Michael LaSala, professor at the Rutgers University School of Social Work interviewed 65 lesbian and gay youth and their families about the coming-out process for a book that was published in June called, "Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child," cautions parents to wait until their children are ready to discuss their issues, not to push for answers.
Vanessa Gomez, a counselor who works with teens at Moreno Valley Community Learning Center, about 65 miles east of Los Angeles and president of the California Association of School Counselors recommends teaching children how to respond to bullying. She suggests teaching kids that it's not OK to join in and also teaching them to stand up for themselves and others. It's especially important, she says, to build a sense of self-worth in children so that they can protect themselves and others from bullying.
Read Harpaz, Beth J. How can parents help prevent bullying?
See an earlier post: Keeping LGBT students safe at school