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Authors: Jessica Dunn with Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE

Adults cannot predict when children will ask questions about homosexuality or same-sex relationships, so it is good to think about it ahead of time. The creators of this web site believe that it is important to respect a variety of beliefs on the topic of homosexuality. Whatever you believe, it is important for you to know your own viewpoint and to realize how your attitudes can affect the children in your care. You may prefer to ignore this topic. After all, it will not come up often. But there is a good chance that a child in your care either knows someone who is gay or lesbian, or has parents who are gay or lesbian. Even if they do not know someone personally, they may talk about these issues.

When you talk to children about moral issues like this, explain that people believe different things. Always encourage children to talk with their parents about it. That will help you avoid saying things that conflict with the family’s values. Also, let the child’s parents know about the questions she asks. There is a difference between what you teach your own children and what you teach other people’s children. You may find that your beliefs differ from the parents’ beliefs. You may want to tell the child how you feel, but it is not appropriate for a childcare provider to tell a child that her family’s values are wrong.

Gay and lesbian parents often feel that they do not belong in childcare programs. You can make it easier for them to fit in by examining your registration and information forms. Instead of spaces for “mother” and “father,” you could have spaces for “guardian 1” and “guardian 2” and/or “parent 1” and “parent 2.” Instead of having a special event for fathers or mothers, you might want to have events for parents or caregivers. This would also be helpful for children who have only one parent or are being raised by grandparents.

The children in your program probably come from many different kinds of families. Avoid asking children lots of questions about their parents’ lifestyle, though. Help all the children in the program feel good about their families. Be aware of your language and assumptions. For example, a single mother might be looking for a husband, or she may be lesbian and seeking a same-sex partner. Some single mothers and fathers may want to remain single.

Children will do things that make you wonder if they are gay or straight. These are some key points to keep in mind:
     • Sexual preference is not usually clear until the teenage years or 20s. Sometimes it is not clear until even later.
     • Children may play house and take on roles of the opposite sex. For example, two girls might pretend to be the mommy
       and the daddy. Two boys might do the same thing, or a boy might play mommy and a girl might play daddy. You do not
       need to worry about this. They are learning about the world.
     • Children in your care may call each other “gay” as an insult. Tell children that “gay” is not a word that they should use
to tease other children. Be careful not to make it sound like “gay” is a bad word. Help children learn other words to use
       when they are frustrated or upset.

Keep in mind that discrimination can exist on many levels. There may be parents of children in your care who have different values than you, or live a lifestyle that you do not agree with. In these cases, remember that the law does not allow you to treat them any differently than any other client. Also, keep in mind that children and parents may be dealing with discrimination from places outside of your childcare.

Learn about nontraditional families and share information with the families in your program.

Go to:  • HIV/AIDS
           • Tips for providers
           • Red flags – recognizing sexual abuse
           • Books for parents and children
  Sexuality education policy statement

For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at

Please feel free to link to, print off, redistribute, or reprint
  any of these materials as long as the original credits remain intact.

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