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LGBTQIA+ Youth: Being a Parent Ally

If you are raising a child who is in the LGBTQIA+ community you may be overwhelmed right now. It seems like every day there are news stories about bills, laws, and hate crimes that are all direct attacks at the community. That is why it is so vital that a child who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community has a supportive family unit and a parent ally. Below are the top 5 ways that you can create that for your child, and preserve their mental health as they navigate the world.

With every blog that we write to support LGBTQIA+ youth we have to make an important disclaimer. Identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community is NOT a mental health challenge. Societal and sometimes familial pressures can harm the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth. It is important that we talk about it, and get resources to parents of LGBTQIA+ youth.

1. Start early

Since you are reading this you may already know that your child is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Or, maybe you feel like your child is questioning some things. Either way it can be helpful to have an already established household tone.

Talk about Pride Month and why it exists. On family movie night pick a movie with an inspiring character who is in the LGBTQIA+ community. Use the correct pronouns listed on the grocery store employee's badge. Make it a point to talk about the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community and how upset it makes you. By setting this tone are you acknowledging the hardships the community faces. Prove to your children early and often that you are an ally for this incredible community.

LGBTQIA+ youth

2. Make your home their sanctuary

Every child needs their home to feel like a safe place to them. Especially if they struggle with their mental health. Yet, this is even more important for LGBTQIA+ youth. The outside world has become dangerous and draining for them and they need a safe place to be themselves.

Making your home a sanctuary for them means calling them by their preferred pronouns. It means having every member of your household not only accept but embrace your child and who they are. If you have extended family members who chose to not see your child for who they are, make them unwelcome in your home. We know this may feel awkward but if you have to step on a few toes to allow your child one completely free space than so be it.

When your child walks through your front door they should feel a sigh of relief. No matter what is going on outside they know once they are home they are safe, they are accepted, and they are seen.

woman on social media

3. Be loud and proud

Not only do you want to set your household tone, but sing it to the world! It can also show your child you love and accept them by being a loud and proud advocate for the community as a whole. Put your pronouns in your email signature. Share articles on social media about challenges that are impacting the community.

By doing this you are showing your child that you see them. You are also telling the outside world that you’re an ally that doesn't mess around when it comes to acceptance and human rights.

This could be a great way to show your child you support them but you want to be cautious not to tokenize them. Talk to your child ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with you posting what you planned on posting.

Don't worry! You don't need to check with them every time you try and advocate for and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. However, it's best to check in every so often with their comfort levels before proceeding. Be mindful and respectful of their feedback. Tell them you want to support them in the way that they feel most comfortable with.

dad in car

4. Check-in often

Even if your child knows that you are a safe place to vent to, it doesn't always mean they will. It can be scary to ask for help so it is a good idea to sprinkle in check-ins. A lot of children experience anxiety about speaking up so this can help.

It doesn't always have to be a big conversation filled with emotion. Casual check ins can be a great parenting tool. Ask them about how they're feeling. See if they saw a news story or not. Ask if they need anything. All these can help your child feel even more comfortable expressing their needs.

A great tip that we love is to try some shoulder to shoulder conversations. We have found this works the best in the car, but look for other times like when you're in the kitchen together cooking dinner or loading and unloading the dishwasher. Talking about difficult topics while you are both involved in a simple activity can be way less scary. These types of conversations have been tested by our staff of parents time and time again. It is where they get the most honesty and vulnerability from their children.

5. Never stop learning

As the parent of a member of the LGBTQIA+ community a great way you can make your child feel seen is to stay up to date. Find a trusted news source and check it to see what is going on. Bring some of these stories up at appropriate times to show your child that you are an active ally for the community. These stories can be a great way for you to gage your child's anxiety. Use them as a catalyst for conversations that may be difficult to broach otherwise.

It can also be helpful to keep doing research on how to best be a parent ally. Information on pronouns, terminology, and how to best support your child are always changing. To view a handpicked list of parent friendly LGBTQIA+ resources, with a mental health focus, check out our resources here!

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