Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Three Things We Can ALL Do to Accept and Celebrate LGBTQ+ Kids and Families
Happy Pride Month!
June has long been a time to celebrate our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and began originally as a tribute to those involved in the Stonewall Riots. It’s become a time of rainbow flags, glitter, and parades all with the purpose of bringing awareness to the difficulties still faced by those who do not identify as straight and cisgender.
Why honor them?
Because aside from the simple fact that they are members of our human family and are thus deserving of our love and respect, the statistics around LGBTQ+ youth are horrifying. For example, did you know:
- 28% of LGBTQ youth report experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives?
- The rates of regular alcohol use, marijuana use, and prescription drug misuse were substantially higher among youths subjected to “conversion therapy?”
- LGBTQ youth are more than 4x as likely to attempt suicide than their peers but that those youth whose families are accepting and supportive are 50% less likely to make a suicide attempt?
Thank goodness for these children, things in many areas of the country are starting to change. So if you are the parent of an LGBTQ+ child, care about someone who is LGBTQ+, or are just concerned about the health and safety of your fellow citizens, here are a three simple things we can all do to support them:
- Get over it and learn from the kids. Don’t understand all the different identities (gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, aromantic, queer to name a few) or feel baffled by the use of they/them pronouns? They may be an adjustment (they have been for me, too) but trust me when I say that adults spend way more time worrying about this than our kids do. You don’t have to understand it all to be respectful and honor a person’s experiences or a teen’s self-exploration. Believe them when they tell you who they are. And if their life experience or identity doesn’t match your idea of them? They are not required to conform to yours or anyone else’s expectations of who they “should” be. Put simply, get over it and move on.
- Teach your children to stop using the word “gay” as a slur for anything. “That’s so gay” is something that still fills the hallways of our middle and high schools and it just ain’t cool. Even when talking about something like homework, it sends the implicit message that gay=bad. Tell them to knock it off. Oh, and while you’re at it, “retarded” isn’t cool either.
- Make them feel safe and heard. Know a kiddo who is struggling or feels unsupported? Be that safe person who checks in, asks how they are doing, gives them a hug, and lets them know they are loved No. Matter. What. Ask what it is like to be them and listen without judgement. Understand that in this day and age many children “try on” different identities. Let them figure out who they are by giving them space to discover without fear of ridicule or being told they are somehow “less than.” If they feel safe and heard they will find their way to their true selves.
In a world where some in power are still trying to erase the experiences of LGBTQ kids and teens (see Florida’s and others “Don’t Say Gay” bills for starters) it is even more critically important that those of us in a position to support these kids do just that.
So on June 28, Pride Day 2022, don your rainbows, pop on Macklemore’s “One Love,” on the stereo, and join me in shouting from the rooftops: THESE KIDS MATTER.
Need more support as a parent or caregiver of an LGBTQ kiddo? The Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign are great online resources, and The Pride Guide by Jo Langford and Parenting Your LGBTQ+ Teen by Allan Sadac are both great books.
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.