Did you know that youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) are overrepresented in the foster care system? According to the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children All Families Program (HRC), many enter foster care after being rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. HRC and other sources including the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) based out of San Francisco State University, know the importance of children being raised by committed parents in a loving environment. In fact, FAP has conducted groundbreaking research on the correlation between positive health outcomes for LGBTQ youth and the positive support they receive from their parents.
Compared to LGBTQ young people who are not rejected at all or only a little by their parents and caregivers, highly rejected LGBTQ young people are:
- 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide,
- nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression,
- more than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and
- more than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sycamores is committed to LGBTQ inclusive policies and affirming practices and is the proud recipient of the All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition by the Human Rights Campaign. Sycamores Assistant Vice President of Clinical Training Dr. Nick Ryan shares important tips to help parents and other caregivers to show support for their LGBTQ youth.
- Express affection when you find out that your child is gay or transgender – your love and approval will go a long way to setting your child on the path to a heathy and happy future.
- Talk with your child and actively listen, encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Try to be sure that your words and attitude are kind and supportive.
- Support your child’s LGBTQ identity and gender expression even when you feel uncomfortable. You may be experiencing a variety of feelings and emotions, and that’s normal. PFLAG, with chapters across the nation, offers support and resources for both LGBTQ youth and their families. Connecting with other parents of LGBTQ youth will help you to understand what your child is experiencing and your feelings too.
- Advocate for your child when they are mistreated because of their LGBTQ identity. It is important for your child to know that you stand with them – that includes insisting on other family members respecting your LGBTQ child too.
- Bring your child to LGBTQ organizations and events. By actively encouraging your child to participate in LGBTQ organizations and events, you are both showing your support and letting them know they are not alone. Connecting your child with an LGBTQ adult role model can show them options for their future.
- Talk with clergy and help your faith community to support LGBTQ people. Acceptance from religious leaders and faith communities can play an important role in supporting youth during their formative years.
- Welcome your child’s LGBTQ friends and partners to your home. By demonstrating acceptance of their friends and partners, you are also affirming your approval of your child.
- Believe your child can have a happy future as an LGBTQ adult. Often when parents have negative or conflicted feelings, when learning their child is gay or transgender, it because they fear for their child’s future happiness. Your acceptance and support of your child now, will provide a strong foundation for their future health, happiness and success.
We encourage you to learn more about how you can support your child and yourself. A few of the many other resources available for both parents and youth are listed below.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics’ website has many resources for youth and their parents, including:
Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Teens: Facts for Teens and Their Parents
Gender-Diverse & Transgender Children, Parenting a Gender Diverse Child: Hard Questions Answered
How You Can Help Your Child Avoid & Address Bullying
- PFLAG: Parents: Quick Tips for Supporting Your LGBTQ Kids–and YOURSELF–During the Coming-Out Process
- Human Rights Campaign:
A Parent’s Quick Guide for In-School Transitions
Supporting Your Young Gender Non-Conforming Child
- TransYouth Family Allies (TyFA)