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? Remember the basics:
It’s not “just a phase.” Embrace—don’t dismiss—their evolving sense of self.
There is no “cure.” It’s not something that needs to be fixed.
- Don’t look for blame. Instead, celebrate your child and all that they are. Your child is the same person that they always were.
How to Support Your Child
- Affirm who they are with love. No matter how easy or difficult learning about your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is for you, it probably was difficult for them to come out to you. Understand that although gender identity is not able to be changed, it often is revealed over time as people discover more about themselves.
- Listen with intention. Give your child ample opportunity to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.
- Show subtle support. You do not need to raise a rainbow flag in your front yard to show your support.
- Support your child’s self-expression.
- Stand up for your child when they are mistreated.
How to Support Your Child in School
- Advocate for a gay-straight alliance (GSA), which has been shown to make schools safer and boost academic performance among LGBTQ students.
- Maintain frequent contact with teachers. That way, you’ll know when issues arise.
- Above all, don’t hesitate to speak up.
- Remember that you’re not alone. According to the Williams Institute, there are more than eight million self-identified LGB people in the U.S., and approximately 1.4 million people who identify as transgender.
- Remember that your feelings are valid. There is no one way to react to learning that your child or a loved one is LGBTQ—but your child should only see love and acceptance.
- Remember that this is a journey. While you want to express your love for your child as quickly as you can, remember that you are in a process; addressing your reaction and moving forward will take time.
Response Center LGBTQ Resources
- Helpful Links: Explore our list of other sites and organizations that offer helpful LGBTQ-related information for Jewish and non-Jewish teens (as well as parents and guardians).