What is LGBTQIA+?
LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why family and community support are important
- 25.2 million 13–18 year-olds identify as LGBTQIA+ as estimated by the U.S. Census. (Approximately 10.5% of the population of that age group.)
- 26.3 million 19–24 year-olds identify as LGBTQIA+ as estimated by the U.S. Census. (Approximately 9.6% of the population of that age group.)
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people and
- LGBTQIA+ youth are 4x more likely to seriously consider suicide, to plan for suicide, and to attempt suicide than their straight peers.
Nearly 34,000 LGBTQIA+ youth between the ages of 13-24 completed The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQIA+ Youth Mental Health survey:
- 45% seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months with 14% attempting suicide (over 4,700 youth)
- 73% reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder within the past two weeks
- 60% reported wanting counseling but were unable to receive it in the past 12 months
- 28% experienced homelessness or housing instability at some point
- 36% reported having been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity
Ways for parents to support LGBTQIA+ kids
- If/when your child comes out to you:
- Hug them immediately
- If you can, say “Thank you for telling me”. If this news was hard to hear, think how hard it was for your child to say.
- If you don’t know what to say, hug them again. And tighter. Your silence in their moment of vulnerability can speak volumes also.
- Foster a safe, affirming space for your child
- Your home is likely a safe haven for your child. Continue to foster this by initiating gentle conversation, give opportunities to openly share thoughts and feelings, be welcoming and kind to your child’s LGBTQIA+ friends or partner(s).
- Listen. If you get the opportunity for your child to start a conversation, listen with intention, validate their feelings, and suspend judgement.
- LGBTQIA+ youth reported lower rates of attempting suicide when they felt more supported by their friends and family.
- Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported have their pronouns respected all or most of their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.
- Lead with love
- Listen with intention. Some conversations may be hard, but open, loving small conversations can lead to big opportunities for trust with your child.
- Show support and demonstrate advocacy. Show up for your child if they are mistreated. Make it clear that LGBTQIA+ slurs/jokes are not tolerated.
- Hug your child as often as you can - showing your parental love can have a lasting and resounding impact on your child.
- Find a safe, affirming space for yourself. Do research and/or seek out support groups with other parents that may be going through the same as you.
Ways for the community to support LGBTQIA+ kids
When asked, “What makes a space affirming for LGBTQA youth in NC?” the answers were clear:
- “A large community of other LGBTQA students”
- “Pride clubs in schools”
- “If I see other LGBTQA people being out, open, and accepted”
- “People respecting my name and pronouns”
- “See a Pride (rainbow) flag”
- “Out LGBTQA people within leadership”
For more information about how to support a LGBTQIA+ child, please feel free to call The Parenting PATH at 336-748-9028.
Resources for Teens
- The Trevor Project: Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention - The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
- Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Student Action - As a student, you have the power to make change in many ways in your school and community.
- Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network - GSA clubs are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities.
- HealthyChildren.org: Health Concerns for Gay and Lesbian teens - Information for LGBT teens on sexual activity, substance use, mental health, discrimination, and violence.
- It Gets Better Project - The It Gets Better Project inspires people across the globe to share their stories and remind the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth that hope is out there, and it will get better.
- Stomp Out Bullying: Making Schools Safe for LGBTQ Community - Schools should be a young person’s primary center for learning, growing, and building a foundation for success in the world. High school can be challenging for any student, but LGBTQ youth face additional obstacles of harassment, abuse, and violence.
Resources for Parents
- Advocates for Youth (AFY): Are you an Askable Parent? - AFY provides lesson plans, tips and strategies, background information, and additional resources to help youth-serving professionals create safe space for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
- American Psychological Association: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - Accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation.
- The Family Acceptance Project - The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth.
- HealthyChildren.org: Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBT Teens - “Coming out” is a lifelong journey of understanding, acknowledging and sharing one’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation with others.
- Kidshealth.org: Sexual Attraction and Orientation - Information for parents on how youth experience sexual attraction and orientation, as well as how you as a parent or guardian may feel about and deal with youth on this topic.
- Parents, Families, Friends, and Allies of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) - Information about PFLAG’s confidential peer support and education in communities.
- Parents’ influence on lesbian, gay, or bisexual teens - Information on how parents can promote positive health outcomes for their LGB teen.
- SAMHSA: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children - This resource guide was developed to help practitioners who work in a wide range of settings to understand the critical role of family acceptance and rejection in contributing to the health and well-being of adolescents who identify as LGBT.