June is Pride Month and seeing LGBTQ celebrations on the news, in community or online can be a great teachable moment to begin discussions with children. However, I would suggest parents and caregivers begin talking to children around the age of 7 or 8. They may have questions before that time, but they are probably too young to fully understand or know the answers.
If a child is expressing a sexual orientation or gender identity different from their assigned sex at birth, it's important to listen carefully and ask them what they think and why they feel that way. This is a big step for them to take and they will need your support. They may worry about being bullied or discriminated against. Some are afraid that their families or friends won't accept them. They also might worry that people will talk behind their back or make cruel jokes.
For those who are unsure of what to say or how to help, there are many resources available to parents and teachers to teach about LGBT topics with their students. A great resource is PFLAG, which offers information on how to talk to kids about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
Whether they are straight or LGBTQ, kids need to be taught that everyone is different and that differences should be celebrated. They need to be told that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is not a choice and that God created them male and female, just as Adam and Eve were, and the animals that came into Noah's Ark two-by-two (both a mommy animal and a daddy animal). And they need to be taught that people who live as LGBTQ+ should still be treated with love, respect and dignity, just as all others are.