Parents, carers and friends
If you're a parent, carer or friend of an LGBTQ+ young person who would benefit from our support, you can make a referral on their behalf.
We have a range of support for LGBTQ+ children and young people from ages 13-25 including group meet-ups, one-to-one support and a range of resources on this website.
The rest of this page covers:
- Making a difference as a parent, carer or friend
- If a young person is questioning their sexual orientation or gender
- Some simple dos and don'ts
Making a difference
If your child, relative or friend has come out to you as LGBTQ+, or is questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, you may have questions of your own or feel unsure about how to react.
It's important that young people who are coming out for the first time feel supported and safe to do so.
Young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are more at risk of mental health issues including depression and anxiety. This can be due to fear of coming out to parents, carers or friends, or their own internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.
As a parent, carer or friend, you can make a big difference to their life and how they feel about coming out and being themselves.
If a young person is questioning their sexual orientation or gender
Young people often experiment with sexuality and gender, and this is normal.
It's common for people to be unsure about their sexual orientation or gender identity for some time, or to define themselves as ‘questioning’. This could be a short phase or it could go on for years. Some people may never really feel sure about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or just don’t feel the need to give themselves a definitive label.
If your child or friend is questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation, it can be a good idea to make sure they know that you would not react negatively should they decide to come out.
It might not be appropriate to have a frank conversation with them, so another way of doing this could be through checking your own everyday language. Make sure that you do not use any homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language at home. For example, if you are watching TV together and a gay couple or a trans person appears on the screen, do not use slurs or derogatory terms or language when talking about them.
You might not have anything against people who identify as LGBTQ+, but any comments that mark them out as ‘different’ or ‘not normal’ will put your child off coming out to you. Instead, try speaking positively about LGBTQ+ people and relationships (just as you would about straight, cisgender people and relationships between them) and making comments about how you think everyone should feel free to be who they are.
Some simple Dos and Dont's
Do: Offer opportunities to talk about it, without being forceful
Do: Get informed and knowledgeable
Do: Let them make their own decisions and find their own place in the LGBTQ+ community
Do: Make sure that they know where to get support
Do: Check that their school or college has inclusive policies and actively challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
Do: Challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia yourself whenever you can, openly and loudly. Even the most apparently ‘casual’ comment, e.g. the expression ‘that’s so gay’, should be challenged!
Do: Remember that they are still the same person. Being LGBTQ+ is a part of who they are, but it is not what defines them
Do: Find support for yourself – your thoughts and feelings are important too
Don't: Tell them it’s a phase or that they will grow out of it
Don't: Assume that because they are trans or non-binary or have a same-sex partner that they won’t have a family or children
Don't: Force your own ideas on them or try to change who they are
Try not to worry
Try not to worry about what other people think – your child or friend is the most important person to consider. If you face discrimination through your friends, extended family, colleagues or neighbours it is your job to stand up to prejudice and educate others.
Don’t forget to look at our resources page to get answers to any other questions you might have. We also run fortnightly virtual meet-ups for parents and carers, get in touch to find out more.