Supporting LGBTQ youth is a win/win

Tips for supporting the LGBTQ youth in your life.

Navigating through teenage years presents many personal challenges as youth are striving for peer-acceptance. Today’s youth also face the hardship of bullying, particularly youth who are in the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning sexual identities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a nation-wide study on middle and high school students found that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth were more than two times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to heterosexual students.

There are many ways to support LGBTQ youth to reduce the risks of discrimination, bullying, substance use and suicide. The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources and strategies for foster families, which can be applied in any home. The following are just a few suggestions that can be implemented right away:

  • Respond in an affirming and supportive way
  • Respect your youth’s privacy
  • Welcome your youth’s friends or partner to family gatherings
  • Connect the youth to community supports and events
  • Stand up for your youth when they are mistreated

It can be challenging to support youth in ways that we might not identify with personally. However, the Family Process Journal shares positive outcomes parents experience when supporting their child who identifies as LGBTQ. This research reports on five positive themes:

  1. Personal growth
  2. Positive emotions
  3. Activism
  4. Social connection
  5. Closer relationships

Though it may stretch us out of our comfort zone, supporting our youth can be a win/win for all involved. Know your community resources, utilize positive mentors and listen to your child with love. As you support your child, you may find you need support too. Michigan State University Extension offers workshops on healthy relationships and other social-emotional health programming. Be sure to explore the MSU Extension Bullying Prevention Programs in your area to strengthen you and your family.


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