This Is What I've Learned From My LGBT-Identified Kid

What is it like to have an LGBT child? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Elizabeth H. Simmons, Particle Theorist, Dean, and Physics Professor at Michigan State University, on Quora:

In a lot of ways, it's just like having a child who identifies as non-LGBT. Daily life in a family tends to revolve around meals, grocery shopping, laundry, homework, bedtime, screen time, time with friends, summer camp, college applications, driving lessons, and trying to get more than a one word answer to "What did you do in school today?" regardless of your children's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

But there are some special aspects to the experience.

I have found that having a child who identifies as LGBT is an exceptional learning opportunity. We've had very frank discussions about their life experiences and perspective that have broadened my understanding of the human condition at both the intellectual and empathic levels. They've recommended some great books that taught me even more.

Since part of what I've learned is that LGBT folks face scary levels of harassment, discrimination, and violence, I'm also afraid my child will encounter this in their own life. In the years before the Obergefell decision, it was very hard to see people effectively debating whether my child was worthy of the right to marry; enraging, even. That's a pretty hard emotion for a parent to live with. But other parents likely live with a similar similar sense of fear and anger if their children are differently abled or part of certain racial or ethnic or religious minority groups ... so perhaps it's a more universal feature of parenting than I'd expected when my kids were born.

In recent years, being a parent of an LGBT child has led me to volunteer a bit on behalf of the LGBT community in my profession. That has enabled me to collaborate with and learn from some extraordinary people. I'm grateful for the chance to know them.

Ultimately, it's all about love. I love both of my children immensely and fiercely. Through my child who identifies as LGBT, I now feel a much greater sense of connection and kinship with a whole community. What a wonderful gift that is.

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