A quarter of British parents 'would not feel proud' to have an LGBT+ child, study reveals

Some parents would refuse to change pronouns used to refer to their child [Photo: Getty]
Some parents would refuse to change pronouns used to refer to their child (Getty)

A quarter of adults in the UK would not feel proud to have an LGBT+ child, new research has suggested.

A YouGov poll commissioned by LGBT youth homelessness charity akt, formerly known as the Albert Kennedy Trust, asked how people would respond in a variety of scenarios if they had a child that came out to them.

In results that highlight there’s still some way to go in terms of changing attitudes, when faced with the statement: “I would feel proud to have an LGBT child”, 26% of those polled disagreed.

On a slightly more positive note, just under half (46%) of more than 2,100 people surveyed agreed they would feel proud to have a child who had come out.

But worryingly the survey also found that 11% would be uncomfortable living at home with their lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender child.

Previous akt research found that 24% of homeless people aged 16 to 25 identified as LGBT+, with more than three-quarters (77%) citing abuse and rejection from their family as the main factor in their homelessness.

Sam Smith poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2019 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Last month singer Sam Smith revealed they wanted to be referred to by the pronoun ‘they’. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

In what has become a controversial subject, a quarter of people (25%) surveyed believe relationships and sex education should not include LGBT issues.

But others would like to see that changed with 59% supporting the inclusion of topics such as gender identity and sexuality at an age-appropriate level.

READ MORE: How to support children questioning their gender

Last month, non-binary singer Sam Smith revealed they wanted to be referred to by the pronoun ‘they’, but the poll found that nearly three in 10 people (28%) would not be willing to change the pronouns used for their child, such as he, she and they, if their child came out as transgender.

However, as proof that things are moving in the right direction, 46% of people said they would be willing to change the language and pronouns used.

Interestingly, non-parents were more willing to make the change, compared with existing parents or guardians.

A quarter of parents wouldn't feel proud of an LGBT child [Photo: Getty]
A quarter of parents wouldn't feel proud of an LGBT child [Photo: Getty]

While more than half of respondents aged between 25 and 34 (55%) would change the pronouns, compared with 41% of those aged 55 and over, potentially suggesting more acceptance from parents of the future.

Commenting on the findings Tim Sigsworth, chief executive of akt, said: “These figures barely capture the heartbreaking realities we hear every day from the young people that akt is here to support.

“People often talk about the 'unconditional love' that parents have for their children, however we know first-hand that in many cases, the act of coming out can result in parental rejection and abuse for many young people.

“akt is here to support LGBTQ+ young people into safe homes and better futures, and work toward a world where no young person has to choose between having a roof over their head and being who they are.”

READ MORE: Mother's support of non-binary child goes viral

It isn’t the first time parent views about children coming out has been analysed.

Previous research has revealed that parents can struggle to adjust for years when their child comes out as gay.

Researchers discovered that many parents who find out their child is gay, lesbian or bisexual (LGB) are still finding it moderately or “very hard” to adjust two years later.

Those responses are the same, on average, as parents who have recently learned about their child's sexual orientation, which seems to suggest that many parents struggle with adjusting to the news for several years.

Past studies have suggested that parents who do have trouble adapting are more likely to disapprove or adopt negative attitudes that can put LGB youths at risk of serious mental health problems such depression or suicide.

“Surprisingly, we found that parents who knew about a child's sexual orientation for two years struggled as much as parents who had recently learned the news,” said David Huebner, PhD, MPH, associate professor of prevention and community health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health).

“Two years is a very long time in the life of a child who is faced with the stress of a disapproving or rejecting parent.”