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This guidance for parents and caregivers of LGBTQ youth will help you create a positive environment for the LGBTQ young people in your life to be themselves and maintain a positive relationship with you.

Parenting LGBTQ Youth: Resources for Parents

Your kid or teen has just let you know that they identify as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer). Or maybe they have shared that they’re experiencing gender dysphoria – feelings of unease that their sex assigned at birth doesn’t match with the gender – and they’re not sure what to do.

As a parent or caregiver, what’s the best way to respond? How do you support your LGBTQ youth? And if you don’t know how to react, what should you avoid doing?

These are questions many parents of LGBTQ youth have. There are two important things to know about parenting LGBTQ youth:

  • Your acceptance and love are everything. Youth thrive when they feel a sense of belonging, so it’s important to lead with your support, even if you’re navigating your own feelings about your child’s identity. Nothing is more important than young people feeling safe and accepted.

  • Research shows that LGBTQ youth who were highly rejected by their families are at an increased risk of health issues such as illicit drug use and suicide. It’s important to understand mental health in LGBTQ youth, and how lack of acceptance, bullying and prejudice can have an impact. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGTBQ Youth Mental Health found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

That’s why it’s particularly important for LGBTQ kids and teens to feel supported by their families and communities. Research shows LGBTQ youth who have family support have greater self-esteem and resilience and a lower risk of negative outcomes like depression, hopelessness and substance abuse.

Parenting LGBTQ Youth

Parents, caregivers and family members of LGBTQ kids and teens have a critical role to play in creating a positive environment where your young person feels accepted and empowered to express themselves. Below are some behaviors to demonstrate your support and behaviors that may alienate your young person as they’re sharing their identity with you.

Behaviors that help demonstrate your support:

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    Talking with your child about their LGBTQ identity and asking open-ended questions to encourage your child to share

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    Supporting your child’s LGBTQ identity, even if you feel uncomfortable, in order to demonstrate that you still love and support your child no matter what.

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    Learning identity terminology so you can be an ally and better understand and talk about your young person’s LGBTQ identity

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    Advocating for your child if they are mistreated because of their LGBTQ identity

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    Requiring other family members to respect your LGBTQ child

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    Connecting your child with an LGBTQ community organization, youth mentor or adult role model to show them options for the future

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    Welcoming your child’s LGBTQ friends and parents to your home and family activities

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    Supporting your child’s gender expression, such as what they choose to wear or hairstyles they are trying out

Behaviors that may be perceived as rejection:

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    Telling your child that their LGBTQ identity is a phase they will grow out of

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    Isolating your LGBTQ child from family members, friends and social activities

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    Making your child keep their LGBTQ identity a secret and not letting them talk about it

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    Blocking your child’s access to LGBTQ events, friends and pop culture

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    Blaming your child when they are discriminated against because of their LGBTQ identity

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    Verbally harassing your child because of their LGBTQ identity or telling them you are ashamed of them

Resources for Parents of LGBTQ Youth

Boys & Girls Clubs are committed to safe, positive environments for youth and provide inclusion programming. 

Learn more about BGCA’s commitment to inclusion for LGBTQ youth.

Stay in the Know

Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides safe places, caring mentors and life-enhancing programs that boost youth self-esteem, build confidence and contribute to overall positive and healthy wellbeing. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest resources and stories.

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