After so many years of prejudice and non-inclusion, the world has finally started becoming a more inclusive, welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community over the past decade. This means encouraging people to feel safe in affirming their identities and coming out at any age—which makes a big difference for young LGBTQ+ people. Representation and education informs kids about the complexity of human identities while encouraging them to embrace their authentic selves.
However, the lingering effects of previous generations' prejudices might make things more uncertain for parents than for children. You might wonder how to support your LGBTQ+ child because you've never seen it modeled through other parents.
Whether your child recently came out or has been out for a while, you can connect with resources to support your family and help you be the best possible parent and ally. Check out a few of the best places for understanding, organization and communication during any period of your child's or teen's journey.
Here are some of the best ways you can support your LGBTQ+ child.
Consider professional support
When your child decides to come out to you, reaffirm that your home is a safe space for them and that you love them no matter what. Thankfully, they already felt safe enough to express themselves, but coming out is still nerve-wracking. Tell them you accept them and are proud of them, even if you're not sure what to say next.
Therapists are always great resources for parents of LGBTQ+ kids and others who want to talk about their journey with a professional. There's no shame in talking to a mental health professional, and it doesn't mean you don't accept your child — it means you're taking the initiative to learn how to support and encourage them in the most helpful way possible. You could reach out to the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network to find experts who can personally understand and assist with both of your experiences.
Learn how to communicate
Many parents freeze up when their child comes out. They aren't sure what to say because they're scared they'll say the wrong thing. You can always learn how to use new phrases or topics while tossing outdated or offensive terminology.
Resources exist solely for parents who don't know how to talk about identity. They'll help you learn how to support your LGBTQ+ child at any age, like Planned Parenthood's educational topics on identity, gender and even personal safety. The organization makes guides specifically for parents who aren't sure how to approach those subjects when their child comes out and grows up.
Build your community
Even though more people accept the LGBTQ+ community than ever before, there are unfortunately still homophobic individuals who will discriminate and bully people who share the same schools and workplaces. It can make kids feel isolated after coming out, but parents can build a supportive community outside of their home.
Look for events and organizations for parents of LGBTQ+ youth where kids can form diverse friendships. They may occur locally or nationally, depending on where you live. PFLAG is a grassroots organization that organizes chapters for young people looking to form an inclusive community. Their volunteers provide everything from educational programs to advocacy support, so no one feels alone or confused.
If your child is in college and just came out, they can seek inclusive on-campus resources so they feel supported even when you can't be with them. They'll discover people who share their lived experiences and develop robust relationships that last well beyond their graduation date.
Find inclusive health care
You likely also worry about your child's well-being as an LGBTQ+ individual. Health care providers aren't always identity-affirming and inclusive, especially if you live in certain regions of the country.
Visit the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association's (GLMA) website to access a comprehensive directory of doctors who have welcoming offices for people with all identities. They'll understand your child's unique health concerns and provide care without any judgment.
Review your rights
Anti-discrimination laws come out all the time, but how do they protect your child? Supporting your family also means knowing their rights. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gives a brief overview of the things that come up most often. You'll find answers to questions like:
- Can my child use the restroom that's consistent with their gender identity?
- Can a landlord refuse to rent to my college-age child?
- Does the law protect my children from discrimination while they're in school?
Bigotry shouldn't keep anyone from living the life they want. Read about your child's legal protections to learn when they're guaranteed their rights and what issues you can take to the court system to protect them if necessary.
Find parental resources for supporting LGBTQ+ kids
When your child comes out, it should be a time of celebration. Remind them they're loved and safe, and then do your part to learn how to help them. These tips will make your lives much more fulfilling by introducing new friends and experts who can assist with whatever you need.