Explaining gay to kids

How do you explain homosexuality to a first-grader?

That’s the question facing one of my friends who is wondering if now is the time to tell her first-grade son why two other students in his class have two daddies and one little boy has two mommies.

My friend doesn’t quite know how to have that discussion, or whether she even needs to. Part of her wants to wait until her son starts asking questions, but another part wants to head off any confusion about what it means.

Even though most first-graders may not be introduced to the topic face-to-face like this, I think many parents are wondering whether they should address the issue because the word “gay” has been all over the headlines.

But the problem is, how in-depth does a parent need to go? I’m not sure a discussion with a first-grader needs to involve all the details of homosexuality, just as I wouldn’t go into the nitty-gritty of heterosexual intimacy with a young child either.

Another dilemma my friend is facing is that her religion does not condone homosexuality. She wants to tell her son that she believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but she doesn’t want her son thinking these other parents (or their children) are bad people. How does she make that distinction clear to a first-grader?

If the legal and emotional battles of recent months over gay rights have taught us anything, it’s that we need to approach this subject with compassion. So how do we teach our children in a way that promotes love rather than hate?

Do you think this is a conversation parents should be having with their children? If so, how does a parent explain homosexuality to a young child?

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