Q. My 15-year-old daughter says kids at school are calling my 12-year-old son "gay boy," "queer boy," and so on. How can I help him?
A. First, let me say how much I hate that so many kids equate the word "gay" with something they can ridicule. Second, you should take a moment to credit yourself for raising an empathetic daughter who broke the kid code of silence and dared to tell her parent something bad.
Next, reach out to your son and say, "Your sister told me people at school are making fun of you. I'm really grateful she came to me because whether it's bothering you a little or a lot, I want to check in with you about it. And I want you to know it's okay to repeat the exact words they said."
The idea is for him to express his feelings (if he's not comfortable talking, he could draw or write). Then you should decide which school administrator would address the problem most effectively and arrange a meeting for the three of you. Reassure your son that he's never going to be alone, he is brave for confronting the issue, and you love him unconditionally.
Originally published in the February 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.