What advice would you give to parents of LGBT+ youth?

June marks the official Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) Pride Month, coinciding with the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, which is known as a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S.

Bayer US - June 3rd, 2021


At Bayer, BLEND, one of our many Business Resource Groups (BRG) open to all of our employees, started in the U.S. during the 1990s in Berkeley, CA. Now with other chapters in the U.S., and around the world, BLEND supports a healthy and trusting environment that is free of prejudice and fair for all.

We asked BLEND members who are parents of LGBT+ individuals: What advice would you give to parents of LGBT+ youth? Please take a few minutes to read each of their stories.


Friends smiling for picture


I have three wonderful children. My son Brian is gay, and Erica identifies as queer. Brian came out to us after his first year of college. That summer, during our commutes, he would ask what I thought of the show “Modern Family” or gay rights. We chatted, and I thought nothing of it. We were out at dinner one night, when he told my husband and me. I think our initial reaction was very underwhelming but hopefully reassuring. Nothing has changed. We’re all still the same people with the same love. We welcomed his LGBTQIA+ friends and relationships into our home.


Erica did not come out until after graduation from college. I was happy that she had had girlfriends and had been enjoying typical college experiences. As an adult, she was not living with us, but we’ve always made clear her partners are welcome to come home with her.


Friends posing for picture


Does it change things? Sure, we live in a world where cis-hetero is the norm. Your family is travelling a different path. But it doesn’t change the fundamentals. The best advice I can give to other parents:

Embrace your child’s new-to-you identity.

“Love is Love Is Love” is an oft-quoted, simple, yet powerful statement. Your child hasn’t changed, and your love and relationship with them hasn’t changed. At the most fundamental, your desires for your child — safety, good health, a satisfying life, fulfilling relationships — haven’t changed.


I love this picture of all my children at the 2019 World Pride in NYC. Erica, Stephanie, Peter (Brian’s husband) and Brian showing their love and support for each other; they all look so radiant! They’ve found a community of love and acceptance, and lead rich, fulfilling lives. As a parent, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Laura Schafer
Principal Clinical Data Engineer, Research and Development, Pharmaceuticals Division, Bayer U.S.


Erase hate - happy pride


Every mom wants the best for their children. As a mom of three, I didn’t come into motherhood with all the answers but I knew I wanted to be the kind of mom that her kids could look to for support and to be that safe space no matter what.


When my eldest child came out in high school, I wouldn’t say I was surprised or unprepared. I knew my son well. In fact I had been patiently waiting for him to get to a place in his personal journey to be able to say, “Mom, I’m gay.” I didn’t try to force it out of him with innuendo or playful teasing, but rather I felt it was important to remain supportive. I wanted to be the one he could trust to provide resources and on his timeline.


In reality, I had been doing research and preparing since he was in the 8th grade. By the time he was in the 12th grade, I was used to his aversion to the topic. Despite my mental mapping, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the flood of feelings that surfaced once he shared his truth. I had so many questions and concerns about his future personally and our future as a family. I started to worry.


I worried about his health.


I worried about his mental welfare.


I worried about him becoming a target for hate.


Who could hate my son? The person who so thoughtfully clears the dinner table and insists on doing the dishes. The incredible person who engages everyone in conversation and cares so much for others to the point of people pleasing. Over the years, I have had many fellow parents compliment my son on being well-mannered and easy going. I’ve even had parents tell me they consider him a role model for their children. Who could hate him? Yet, I knew people would. I feared people would hate him based on their ignorance, intolerance and fear-based misperceptions.


So, imagine my shock when one of those parents, who on many occasions pulled me aside to express how much she loved my son, proclaimed she would no longer associate with us after his coming out. Perhaps she felt she was being supportive or felt her “condolences” for my son being gay were some sort of expression of kindness and empathy. But to me, her words were offensive. I felt compelled to correct her, to stand up to her passive aggressive expression of prejudice.


Going through that experience wasn’t easy. I’ve gone through many evolutions while parenting my gay son. I can say I am not as fearful for his personal safety now that he is 28. I trust he knows all the current health risks and protection options available to him as a gay man.


If I could share just one thing with other parents, it would be to raise your children to be allies. We need to build a society based on understanding, empathy and acceptance to eradicate hate. Together with this approach, I believe we can save lives.

By Stefanie Mertz
Executive Assistance to Biologics Research and Development, Crop Science Division, Bayer U.S.