Coming Out: How to Support Your LGBTQ Teen

Coming Out: How to Support Your LGBTQ Teen

In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11), we celebrate those who bravely choose to live openly as LGBTQ. Coming out is always emotionally charged—not only for the person doing it, but for those they’re telling. For LGBTQ teens, who are often reliant on the adults around them for support and protection, the decision to come out can be extra-emotional and filled with uncertainty. They may be deeply scared of suffering rejection (or worse) at the hands of loved ones.

So, as a loving and well-intentioned parent of a child you suspect might be LGBTQ, how can you create and hold positive, safe space for them to come out? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t push. Coming out is a personal decision that belongs to your child—and only your child. Don’t pressure them to reveal anything or assume that you know their identity. Be patient and let them tell you when they’re ready.
  • Listen. Hearing that your child is LGBTQ may be shocking. Try to stay receptive and calm. Reassure them that you’re listening—not just in that moment, but any time they need you. Coming out is a process, and the more you can be a safe, nonjudgmental “sounding board,” the more likely your child is to share with you their journey toward self-discovery.
  • Express your support. Remind them that you love them for the person that they are. If you do express concerns about rejection, harassment, or other negatives, be sure to articulate that you’re not doing so because you disapprove, but because you want to support them and keep them safe from harm.
  • Seek out resources. Even if you consider yourself a good ally, you may have questions or concerns. Take the time to educate yourself. Reach out to trusted friends (especially those who also have LGBTQ teens) or, if you’re struggling, talk to a counselor. Contact local or national organizations to learn more about unfamiliar topics. Response Center has resources (listed below) to get you off to a good start.

Response Center LGBTQ Resources

  • Parent & Family Connection: Join Response Center’s support and education group for Jewish parents and family members of LGBTQ youth.
  • Helpful Links: Explore our list of other sites and organizations that offer helpful LGBTQ-related information to teens (and parents and guardians).
  • Alliance: Register your teen for Response Center’s annual summer program where LGBTQ teens and allies attend engaging local events and meet other high schoolers.

 

Sources:
Coming Out: A Parents Guide to Supporting Your Gay Teen
10 Tips for Parents of Gay Kids
PFLAG National Blog