This June, as we celebrate Pride, we are thinking about the importance of supporting our LGBTQ+ youth. As a parent or caregiver, it is important to have the tools and resources needed to be able to have important conversations on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The reality is that LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk for discrimination, stigma, and mental health concerns that can arise because of marginalization. Now, more than ever, as anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is making its way through state houses around the country, it is important to equip parents and caregivers with tools and resources to deter some of the staggering statistics seen around mental health concerns for this group.

Create a Safe Environment

Creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ youth is an important step for a parent or caregiver. Doing so will lead to better outcomes for your young person. Creating a safe environment starts at home but should also extend to schools, health care facilities, and extracurricular activities. To create a safe environment, ensure that the young person in your life can have open conversations about their sexual orientation or gender identity without judgment, shame, or concern. As a parent or caregiver, you’ll want to deploy your skills as an empathetic and open listener. You don’t have to be an expert in LGBTQ+ identity, but starting with your love, care, and openness to the concerns of your young person is a great place to start.

“Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ+ people at school made their mental health a lot worse.” – Trevor Project, 2023 survey

Address Stigma and Discrimination

Sometimes a great place to start is by having a conversation about stigma and discrimination in general. Especially considering recent news wherein some states want to ban life-saving care for transgender youth, have an open conversation about the news cycle and ask your young person how they are feeling about that, and what it means to them personally. If you are the parent to a transgender youth, staying open and supportive of their feelings is critically important.

“Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation” – Trevor Project, 2023 survey

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself on the issues impacting LGBTQ+ youth can make you more prepared to help your young person. The internet has a lot of great resources but be sure to review sources that are credible and have accurate research and the backing of LGBTQ+ people. Be prepared to review your own sources first but be open to suggestions from other parents or your young person themselves. Your young person may have some content they want to share with you that may be helpful- stay open to learning from multiple sources.

“Fewer than 40% of LGBTQ+ young people found their home to be LGBTQ+ affirming.” – Trevor Project, 2023 survey

Encourage Safe-Spaces and Self-Care

When having an open conversation with your young person, ask them about where they feel safe. If they don’t feel safe in certain spaces, find out how you might be able to help advocate for your young person. Especially where developmentally appropriate, have an open conversation with your young person about what a safe space means to them and how you can continue to facilitate creating safe spaces for them. Set an example of good self-care by following your own self-care routine and inquire how you can support your young person with their own self-care.

Whether you are the parent or caregiver of an LGBTQ+ identifying youth or any youth, it is important to offer your support from a place of curiosity, openness, and love. Having resources for yourself can help as well. Subscribe to DBSA’s Parent and Caregiver Network for support from other caregivers going through similar experiences. In addition, DBSA also has online support groups for parents and caregivers.

Resources for LGBTQ+ Youth and their Supporters