By Judy Scoble

When my daughter was 16 we were on a family hiking trip. One morning while packing up the tents, my daughter suddenly ran over to me and said: “Hey Mum, I’m ace.”

I replied: “Of course you are darling, you’re wonderful”, to which she replied: “No Mum … I’m asexual”.

I asked what that was, and she explained she felt no sexual attraction to either males or females. She also told me I could ask any questions I wanted, and I did.

I found out that yes, she still identified as a girl; that she had been realising over a number of years that the labels “heterosexual” and “same sex attracted” didn’t fit; and had been exploring more, until she found a name for how she felt.

She is both asexual (no sexual attraction to others) and aro (aromantic, no romantic attraction to others).

Judy Scoble has a passion for ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace, is a Domestic and Family Violence Contact Officer, and a proud Ally.

However, as we were walking and talking, I felt a sense of loss.

Loss of the future that she might have had, of a partner and children (I had somewhat been waiting for the announcement she was not heterosexual but had not imagined as far as ace), a fear that she might be consigned to a lonely old age.

At the same time, I kept very silent about these fears, I knew it was an honour that she confided in me, and I wanted her to know she was respected and loved.

As an ally parent, it is so important to listen to what your child has to say – they are the experts about themselves, and it is by respecting and supporting who they are that they will be able to grow into happy, fulfilled adults.

“I wanted her to know she was respected and loved …”

When we got home, she pointed me to some online resources (your children are great sources of information, ask for articles to help you learn), we talked more, and I processed my worries. As a parent, it’s really important to take this time to think.

My worries weren’t really about her sexuality, they were about her happiness. I think for a lot of parents, when we unpack our worries they are about how the world interacts with our kids, not their sexuality itself.

I was worried about loneliness, but my daughter has a genius for friendship – she chooses wonderful people as her friends, and they are nurturing and supportive – actually she is the least likely person to be lonely in her old age!

After this experience I reflected often that no child coming out should have to explain themselves to their parents. It took a lot of courage for my daughter to come out – she should not have had to explain herself as well.

This is part of why I became involved in the Pride Network at CSIRO. I wanted to help make LGBT+ people visible and welcome, and for everyone to be able to be fully themselves.

I had been worried about joining – did I have the right to call myself an Ally – did it take someone special, more than I am? (would there be a test, I certainly didn’t pass the ace one!).

On the other hand, I wanted to help, so I joined the network, with my contribution largely being around the local visibility. I hosted morning teas for Wear it Purple Day and IDAHOBIT, where the majority of my colleagues attended.

We told our stories about why supporting LGBT+ people is so important to each of us – so many personal stories, so many reasons – and I realised that each one of my colleagues could call themselves an ally.

As an ally to my colleagues, I want you to know you are respected and you have the right to be yourself at work, it’s what I’d want for my daughter in her place of work.

And I guess the most important part of being a parent of a queer kid – just as I would not change a hair on my daughter’s head, I would not change her gender, her sexuality, or who she is – she is loved and she is perfect exactly as she is.

Judy Scoble completed a PhD in Biochemistry in 2000, then combined a career in science with parenting three children.

She completed post-doctoral appointments at Melbourne, La Trobe and Monash Universities before joining CSIRO in 2008 as a Research Scientist. She became Protein Purification Team Leader in 2011 and is currently Biology Group Leader at CSIRO.

Her research encompasses all things protein: production, purification, bioconjugation, structural biology and assay development, and works from early research and development through to manufacture of biologics for clinical trials.

She has a passion for ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace, is a Domestic and Family Violence Contact Officer, and a proud Ally.