The self-esteem of teens and youths is often delicate, and inappropriate words or actions can hurt them. This is worse for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Here we look at how parents can provide support for LGBTQ+ youth.
Research suggests that parental response is fundamental to kids’ well-being and mental health, now and in the future. Research also shows that among the LGBTQ+ suicidal deaths, the majority of the deaths come from those from rejecting families.
About 70.1% of LGBTQ+ students reported being verbally harassed, while 28.9% were physically harassed based on sexual orientation. On the other hand, 20.3% of students were physically harassed, while 54.5% were verbally harassed based on gender expression.
Providing Support for LGBTQ+ Youth – Magnificent Tips for LGBTQ+ Youth Parents
It’s good to note that the following tips apply to parents and responsible adults in LGBTQ+ young people’s lives.
As you know, having kids to open up can feel impossible. The best way to do so is to start small and build trust. Be curious about their life. If possible, get to know their friends and what they like doing. Play their favorite games. Children enjoy being able to talk to their parents about things happening in their lives.
These chats may seem petty, but staying in touch with your kids makes it easier for them to approach you with more complex issues, like sexuality.
Also, you need to be able to initiate such discussions but be less direct. Sometimes, adolescents have a hard time expressing themselves. For instance, if a movie has a bisexual part, start a conversation by complimenting the bisexual character and ask them how they think about the character.
Providing Support for LGBTQ+ Youth – Learn the Facts
If possible, go back to school, learn the facts about gender identity and sexual orientation. Learn the right terms to communicate about sexual orientation and gender identity effectively.
A quick lesson of some often misunderstood terms:
- Gender identity – An individual’s inner sense of having a particular gender.
- Sexual orientation – describes who a person is attracted to—either the opposite gender, same gender, or both genders.
- Transgender – People whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth
Learn that the different types of sexuality are not just phrases. They are real, don’t dismiss them.
Learn there is no “cure” to sexuality. It’s not something that needs to be fixed, but a thing to be accepted and celebrated.
After accepting your child’s sexuality, don’t look for blame. Instead, appreciate and celebrate your kid for who they are.
Providing Support for LGBTQ+ Youth – Stay Involved in School
Kids spend more time in school than they do at home. Make sure they feel comfortable there too. The following can do so.
- Maintain frequent contacts with teachers. This way, you’ll be aware of any issue arising in school – whether good or bad.
- Encourage gay-straight alliance (GSA). This provides a safe environment and boosts academic performance among LGBTQ+ students.
- Advocate for inclusive sex education. Very few schools provide LGBTQ+ students the right information they need to feel healthy and safe. Be aware of these gaps and fill them yourself.
- Speak up. If the school is not taking proper measures to solve sexuality problems, take action and speak to the principal or even the school board.
Look Out for Bullying Signs
Bullying is an issue to many students, but it’s worse for LGBTQ+ youth. They are often targeted because of their sexuality.
Some of the signs are:
- Behavior change- noticing mood and behavior change might be a bullying sign. For instance, if your child was an extrovert and suddenly becomes an introvert.
- Behavior problems in school- By keeping frequent contact with teachers, you will be aware of any discipline issues in school.
- Declining grades- Noticing drastic changes in your child’s grades alerts you of a possible problem that needs to be solved.
- Unexplained absences- For instance, a child gets ready and goes to school, only not to reach school. Because of bullying in school, the child might be afraid and miss school.
- Indulging in risky behaviors- Your child may start getting out of character like engaging in drug use, having a new sexual partner, sudden shifts of friends.
Providing Support for LGBTQ+ Youth – Take a Team Approach
Although giving support to your LGBTQ+ kid might be challenging at times, parents shouldn’t pull back when needed the most.
Some parents get overwhelmed by the process and end up throwing their hands, leaving their kids in the lurch.
Just remember, your child has a more challenging time than you are. Continuous support is essential for the child’s well-being and mental health. If you’re struggling, seek help. Team up with a counselor at school, pediatrician, close family friends and family, and community organizations to get the needed assistance.
If you’re having trouble going through it alone, join groups like Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
Ensure Your Child Forms Healthy Relationships
It’s okay for teens to develop an interest in other girls and boys their age. Dating can be very intimidating to most parents, especially parents of LGBTQ+ youth. But, it’s a critical stage for all children.
To ensure their safety, stay connected and be involved with who they meet. Encouraging your child to date in an age-appropriate and healthy way is an excellent way to deliver a powerful message. Let them know LGBTQ+ relationships are normal and are no cause for shame.
Many LGBTQ+ youths rely on phone applications and social media to meet others because they fear opening up about gender identity and sexual orientation. Many social media platforms provide a safe and healthy space for LGBTQ+ youths to connect with allies and friends. But, some platforms include inappropriate content for teens.
Talk to your child about the phone and social media use and monitor what they do on their devices. Sometimes kids turn to social media when they feel there is no one to talk to. Don’t be too busy for your child; provide guidance and support and keep them occupied.
Providing Support for LGBTQ+ Youth – Bottom Line
Although it’s not always easy for parents to support their LGBTQ+ youths, they should understand it’s even more challenging for the kids.
Try tips like encouraging dialogue, learning the right facts about sexuality, using a team approach, and ensuring kids from healthy relationships to ensure your LGBTQ+ kid stays in a safe and healthy environment.