Seven Ways to Support LGBTQ+ Youth
Every June, we celebrate Pride Month: a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate how far we’ve come and remind us of the commitment to the work that we all must keep doing to achieve true equality for all.
Starlight launched our “Commitment for Change” in June 2020 - an equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative to deliver Starlight programs to more medically underserved and vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ+ community. We are not only committed to continuing our equity, diversity, and inclusion work within hospitals, but also to educating and providing resources to our community.
First and foremost, what does LGBTQ+ stand for?
LGBTQ+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. The “+” is to recognize all non-straight, non-cisgender identities. It is the most accurate way to describe the diversity of the community.
Take a minute to read through these seven ways you can support the LGBTQ+ youth in your life, not just during Pride Month, but year-round.
Let them know they are loved. Children need support from their parents and other adults in their life. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to express love – you just need to be supportive, accepting, and loving.
Encourage conversations. Give your children opportunities to open up, share their feelings, and discuss what is happening in their daily lives. Remember, not every conversation has to be deep, but show them that you want to hear what they have to say. Listening is key.
Stay actively involved with their school life. Because kids spend a large portion of their time at school, you can take steps to make sure they feel accepted and comfortable there, too. You can do that by having open communication with teachers in case any issues arise, advocating for inclusive sex education to ensure that LGBTQ+ students have the information they need, and speaking up whenever you feel there is an issue. You are your child’s biggest advocate.
Help them connect with other individuals. Check to see if their school has a Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA); if not, advocate for one at be started. Introduce them to online resources and groups that will empower them, like The Q Card Project, Q Chat Space, The Trevor Project, and the It Gets Better Project.
Educate yourself. Do you know what pronouns you should be using when addressing individuals? Or the difference between gender identity and gender expression? Take time to educate yourself. It is okay to make mistakes: accept them, apologize, and learn better for next time.
Stand up against Gender Put-Downs and be prepared for questions. Help to create a more inclusive environment by speaking up when you hear anti-LGBTQ+ comments. Plus, you can be prepared for questions and put-downs on gender by checking out Welcoming Schools resources.
Provide them with LGBTQ+ Representation. Representation matters. Give children the opportunity to read books and/or watch movies and shows with LGBTQ+ characters to help them feel represented and be able to identify with others.
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