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jojo07
jojo07 asks:
Q:

How can I help my 11 year old brother come to terms with his sexuality?

Im 19 years old and I have an 11 year old brother that told my mother that he's not sure if he's bisexual or not. My mother came to me and told me this story and of course, shockingly, I was surprised. My little brother asked her to please not say anything to the rest of the family and of course my mother and I tell each other everything. She is asking me to help her out on this situation. Any Advise???
In Topics: Teen sexuality and dating
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 17, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It's not uncommon that an 11 yr. old would have questions or curiosities about their sexuality. It's great that your mom didn't get angry and defensive, but rather just listened to his feelings.

Being a good listener is very important at this point. I would encourage your mom to take your brother to a counselor that specializes in teens. Not because there is something wrong with him for feeling the way he does, but simply for him to have an unbiased 3rd party professional to talk to. It would be important for your mom to explain to him that he's not going to counseling because he's in trouble or wrong, but simply for him to have an opportunity to talk to someone about all the conflicting feelings he's having in a safe and confidential environment. Also, sometimes it can be difficult to talk to a parent about sexuality issues if they think their parents will be upset or disappointed, so speaking with a counselor is a great alternative.

It's great that your brother is reaching out for help and willing to be honest with your mom about how he's feeling. If your mom is looking for counseling referrals in your local area she is welcome to call the Boys Town National Hotline 24/7. We can be reached by calling 1-800-448-3000. We have a database that includes referrals for agencies throughout the country.

Take Care!!
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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Additional Answers (3)

michaelbartone
michaelbart... writes:
Well that can be shocking news at 11. My first comment is that I must commend you and your family for creating an open and safe environment for your brother to share his feelings. My second comment is to let you know he must know that you love him. He is going through a lot right now. I have been in the same situation, but I was 22 when I came out to my family, so we were grown.

From my own experience, and those of my friends, we knew at very young age that we were gay or bisexual. Your brother is exploring his sexuality right now. He might not understand why is he having these thoughts about other men. Again, my advice is to let him know much you still love him, that he is not to blame for this. My own belief is that one is born gay, so he is just following his brain. Your brother is probably embarrassed or ashamed, hence why he doesn't want anyone in the family to know. If you want to show him you care about his well being, then your mother should let him know that he should share with the rest of the family. I cannot stress how embarrassing this is for your brother and how he must feel ashamed. We are unsure what we are feeling and why we are feeling it, it's normal. We need full family support. I know this is hard for you right now, my family still has a hard time with my sexuality. I wish you the best and once he has a solid family giving him love he will be better off than most kids in his situation.

Finally, the book The Sissy Ducking is a great book to help kids understand that one may be different than the norm, but we are all still special. Best to you and your family!
> 60 days ago

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Redwood_City_Mom
Redwood_Cit... writes:
Hello!  I'd like to second michaelbartone's comments about how wonderful it is that your brother would go to your mom with this news.  You should make sure that she really understands what a huge deal it is that he did that.  Often parents and family are the LAST to know so it says a lot about how their relationship that she was the first.  

It's actually not uncommon for kids this age to have questions about their sexuality.  They're just starting to learn about different kinds of love ("I really love my best friend...does that mean I'm gay?  But I also think that girl in my math class is cute...does that mean I'm bisexual?")  As he explores these feelings more over time, he may realize that he is gay or bisexual or he may realize that he's heterosexual.  The best gift you can give him right now is a safe, supportive and loving environment as he works through all of that.  He obviously loves your family a lot and may try to "alter his course" if he thinks you "want" him to be straight.

While being "different" is always really hard for a young person, it seems like there is increasing acceptance for gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents these days (although I'm sure the extent of that acceptance varies a lot depending on what part of the country you live in).  It's very possible that there's a GLB support group at your brother's school or at least at your local community center.  Your brother's guidance counselor or principal should be able to give your mom information about these resources.  I think it will be really important for him to have people to talk to about his feelings as he starts to explore them - especially people who are going through the same thing he's going through.  If there's not a support group available to him then a counselor or child psychologist might be a good option.  (If you go that route though be sure he knows you're not trying to "fix" him - just that you want him to have someone to talk to during this confusing and scary time).

If you have any hunch that he may face hostility at school, I think you should have a meeting with the principal to let him know your family's situation and make sure there's a plan in place to protect your brother.  While GLB kids have an easier time today than in the past, there are still hateful people out there who could pose a threat to your brother.  Your brother and all of his teachers should know exactly what to do if his safety is threatened.

Best of luck and please let us know how your family's doing!
> 60 days ago

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New'New
New'New , Student writes:
Well if you notice so unusually contact tell your mom and let her talk to him about it I'm a girl so it would be kind of hard but as his older brother show him right from wrong and guide him a different way.
> 60 days ago

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