This page is for friends and family of LGBTQ youth. As your LGBTQ loved one goes through changes in their life, your relationship with them might go through some changes, too.
It is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed when someone comes out to you. You might not know what to do or say – that’s okay. Above all else, it is important to continue to support the LGBTQ youth in your life – they need it more than ever. Everyone deserves respect.
Being LGBTQ means being part of a strong and vibrant community.
Coming out is often a time of feeling alone or isolated in a LGBTQ youth’s life, and the negative reactions they receive can be a trigger for behavioral health problems, such as depression or addiction. LGBTQ+ teens are at high risk for suicide because of the intolerance they often face. If you know a teen who needs support while coming out or you think is suicidal, please call or go online to chat with The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. The Trevor Project is a 24/7 hotline to support LGBTQ youth and can help you in supporting them.
If you’re wondering how to talk to a youth about being LGBTQ, here is a great list of Do’s and Don’ts adapted from PFLAG:
Do listen to what your loved one’s life is like, and what kind of experiences he or she has had in the world.
Don’t blame your own feelings on your loved one.
Do take the time to seek information about the lives of LGBTQ2S+ people from parents of LGBTQ2S+ people, friends of your loved one, books, websites, and, most of all, directly from your loved one.
Don’t rush the process of trying to understand your loved one’s sexuality or gender identity.
Do get professional help for anyone in the family, including yourself, who becomes severely depressed over your loved one’s sexuality or gender identity.
Don’t assume that your loved one should see a professional counselor or encourage them to participate in “reparative therapy.”
Do accept that you are responsible for your negative reactions.
Don’t criticize your loved one for being different.
Do try to develop trust and openness by allowing your loved one to be who she or he is without pressure.
Don’t try to break up loving relationships.
Do be proud of your loved one’s ability for having loving relationships.
Don’t try to force your loved one to follow to your ideas of proper sexual behavior.
Do look for the hurt feelings underneath the anger and respond to them.
Don’t blame yourself because your loved one is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Do defend him or her against discrimination.
Don’t demand that your loved one live up to what your idea of what a man or woman should be.
Do support your loved one’s individual goals, even though they may be a lot different from your own.
Don’t force your own life goals on your loved one.
Do say “I love you.”
Don’t insist that your morality is the only right one.
If you feel like you also want support, there are many resources out there for friends and family members of LGBTQ2S+ youth. The largest and best known is Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). PFLAG has parent support groups across Alaska and the US. Their website has many resources about how to support a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth in your life. PFLAG has been in existence for over 40 years now and is seen as a trusted source for friends and families.