Whether you are part of the LGBTQ+ community or you’re an ally, people who share their gender identity or sexuality with you need your unwavering support in return.
LGBTQ+ people experience higher rates of mental illness and suicide than their straight or cisgender peers. Forty percent of trans people have attempted suicide compared to 5% of the population, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other high schoolers.
People often realize or come to the conclusion they are a member of the LGBTQ+ community early in life; however, they may not come out until later in life because so much stigma still exists. Around the world, there are limited protections for LGBTQ+ people and laws still exist that openly discriminate against them.
If you are a parent whose child is coming out, it is vital to support them and their identity through adolescence as they may experience bullying or prejudice at school. It’s also important to be supportive of the queer individuals in your life, whether you are their relative, friend, teacher, or mentor. No matter your role, it’s important to keep the conversation positive about their identity. They may have questions for you, and you may have questions for them, but reiterating that you support them no matter their gender identity or sexuality is a top priority.
For parents and relatives of an LGBTQ+ person
- Make sure they are taken care of. Many LGBTQ youth are thrown out of their homes with no support system when they come out. As a parent, it is your job to provide a loving home for your child no matter their gender identity or sexuality.
- Take them seriously. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone something so private about yourself. They’ve thought long and hard about how to tell you, so give them the same respect of actively listening and giving them space to discuss their gender or sexuality.
For friends or mentors of an LGBTQ+ person
- Connect them to resources. One thing that you can do is make sure they have access to all of the resources they may need like a mental health provider, housing, and job opportunities. As part of their support system, you can help them navigate any difficulties they may have in coming out to other people.
- Check-in regularly. If someone has recently come out to you, ask them how they’re feeling in their newly expressed identity. They may feel shy to discuss these things, but it’s totally normal! Pride month and National Coming Out Day are times to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, but it should really be done every day. It’s important for the health and well-being of our communities to recognize LGBTQ+ issues and reduce stigma.