Parent Wonders If Bisexual Teen Should Be Allowed to Have Same-Sex Sleepovers


teens at a sleepover

We're all about parents who support their LGBTQ-identifying kids, but there might be times when moms or dads are at a loss at how to best parent their child if they've never lived that experience. That is the problem one parent is up against and is seeking advice on how to navigate a current problem: whether it's okay to let a bisexual teen have same-sex sleepovers.

  • The parent asked for thoughts on how to best handle a sleepover for a bisexual teen.

    As the parent explained in a letter to Slate's Care and Feeding advice column, it's easy to know how to handle a sleepover for a heterosexual kid: "the rule is 'no opposite-sex sleepovers,'" and if the child was gay "the rule would be 'no same-sex sleepovers.'” But what should the parent do for a teen who is bi?

    "It seems very unfair to prohibit my bisexual teen from having sleepovers just because they happen to be attracted to both genders, but it also doesn’t seem fair that my other teens have to abide by these 'no sleepovers with people whom you might want to have sex with' rules while the bisexual teen doesn’t,'" the parent wrote. "Help!"

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  • Other parents chimed in and told the parent to simply stop stressing over this sleepover situation.

    "I don't understand the parent who doesn't allow sleepovers," one commenter wrote. "Instead of denying your kids friendships because you think all kids do is have orgies (I guess?) why not have candid discussions about sex. Ensure that they have the information that they need and access to barrier contraception (for prevention of STI's, if not pregnancy). Also, remind your kid that they're normal. Then go practice being a rational person..."

    "If your kid is still having 'sleepovers' and calling them that, they're probably not having sex," another commenter added. "If they want to be having sex, they will find places and times to do it regardless of whether you give them a safe, controlled environment to do it in. Teens explore sexually with each other. It's natural. It isn't shameful or sinful."

    "Gay and bi kids/teens shouldn't be taken out of the sleepover circuit," a third commenter added. "Nor are the gay ones likely to get very many opportunities to have a sleepover with someone of the opposite sex ---because that other kid's parent probably won't allow it."

  • Columnist Jamilah Lemieux agreed; it's nice the parent is trying to be considerate of the child, but this might be too much.

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    Lemieux commended the parent in her response. "I want to first affirm your desire to support your child’s identity and your desire to be equitable in how household rules are created and enforced," she wrote. "Alas, equity is often elusive in a world that will present challenges to your bisexual teen that their siblings simply won’t have to face."

    The columnist pointed out that sleepovers are typically "same-gendered" so "I wouldn’t recommend denying this experience to a bisexual or gay young person just because they are known to be attracted to members of their own gender."

    She added that most likely the night will be filled with gossip, games, junk food and Netflix, not really "getting physical. And anyway, hetero kids and queer/bi ones that haven’t come out to their families are also quite capable of engaging in sexual activity with peers of their own gender when the door is closed and the adults have gone to bed for the evening. (Gender non-conforming kids also deserve sleepover invites, by the way.)"

  • That is why she argued that the parent should hold all of the kids to the same standards.

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    All of the kids should be held to the "single-gendered sleepover rule or allow them all to attend multi-gendered sleepovers," Lemiuex added. "You may also want to prohibit them from attending sleepovers where their boyfriend or girlfriend is present."

    But for the most part, the columnist advised that the parent not sweat the small stuff. "There is a lot of other stuff to be fearful of when teens are under close quarters with potentially limited supervision -- drug use, drinking, bullying, listening to really (expletive) music, etc. -- and as is the case with messing around, they find opportunities to do these things during the school day, when you drop them off at the YMCA on Saturdays for 'basketball,' and whenever they aren’t being closely watched," she wrote. "The only way to truly ensure that a sleepover is sex-free is to have them at your own house and watch those little horndogs like a hawk."

    There is always a risk your teen is going to do something you don't want him or her to do at a sleepover. "But there’s a good chance your kids would prefer not to risk humiliation by getting it on while someone’s parents are home anyway," she added. "Talk to your not-so-little ones and explain to them what your expectations are for when they spend the night out -- and make sure they are clear on how to practice safe sex regardless of the gender of their partners, and that they won’t allow an STD to remain dormant out of fear of disappointing you for breaking a sleepover rule."

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