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Sexual and gender diversity

Sexual and gender diversity

To better understand

Adolescence is a time for teens to discover, explore and affirm their identity. During these years, most of them will have their first crush or fall in love for the first time, not to mention identify their gender identity.

There are many different sexual orientations (for example, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual) and gender identities (for example, cisgender, nonbinary, queer, trans, agender). To learn more about the terminology of different sexual orientations and gender identities, see the glossary created by fondation émergence. You can also watch the video Licorne du genre for more insight into the various dimensions of sexual and gender diversity.

Some teens may have deep questions and concerns about their sexual orientation and gender identity, and others none at all. It’s important to listen to them and to accept them for who they are. The support of their parents is crucial to every teen’s health and well-being. It’s important to respect and support teens as they explore their identity—and teach them to respect diversity in others. As parents, your support is also crucial to preventing homophobia and transphobia.

Sexuality and teens in the Montérégie region

• In the Montérégie region, 16 % of teens don’t identify as exclusively heterosexual.

Want to learn more?

Check out our information sheets for more statistics, key facts, and solutions for families, schools, and communities.

To better support

Communication

  • Talk to your teen about different sexual orientations and gender identities.
  • Talk about diversity in an inclusive way. For example, instead of asking your teen, “Do you have a boyfriend?” or “Do you have a girlfriend?” instead, ask them, “Is there anyone special in your life? Do you have feelings for anyone?” That way, you’re not making assumptions about your teen’s sexual orientation.
  • Ask questions about what your teen and their friends are going through.
  • Talk openly about sexual and gender diversity, without discrimination or judgment.
  • Use TV shows with characters of different sexual orientations and gender identities as a springboard to talk to your teen.
  • If your teen asks you to address them by a different pronoun (such as “he,” “she” or “they”), respect their choice. Of course, you can discuss it with your teen to better understand their reality, but ultimately, you should use the pronouns they’re asking you to use.

Supervision/Guidance

  • Do not tolerate any homophobic or transphobic comments. Reframe the statement: Everyone has the same rights, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Support

  • Listen to your teen’s issues and concerns.
  • Accept your teen for who they are.
  • Try to understand what they’re going through without judging.
  • Offer your teen support if they need it. Help them find information about sexual and gender diversity in teens (see below for references).
  • Be kind and welcoming to your teen’s romantic partner, no matter their gender.

At home

  • Create a safe environment for your teen where they can be themselves and embrace their identity without feeling judged.

Tips and tricks

Find out more about sexual and gender diversity. Many parents avoid the subject altogether because they’re afraid they might say the wrong thing to their teen. Information and awareness are the key! Don’t hesitate to ask for help from the experts.

In brief

  • There are many different sexual orientations and gender identities. During adolescence, some teens might question or worry about their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • As a parent, it’s important to embrace and accept your teen for who they are and to support them as they explore their identity.
  • If you have questions or concerns about your teen’s sexual orientation or gender identity, don’t hesitate to reach out to JAG, an organization that offers services to parents, family and friends of people dealing with sexual and gender diversity issues.

Resources and practical tools

1. For support:

If you are dealing with a situation that has you worried, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a health and social services professional:

Info-Santé/Info-Social 811, 24/7 service

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members are also good allies

2. To learn more:

If you fear for your teen’s or your own safety, call 911 or your local police department.

Latest updates: march 2023

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