Sexual orientation and gender are important aspects of a young person’s identity. Understanding and expressing sexual orientation and gender and developing related identities are typical development tasks that vary across children and youth. For example, some youth may be unsure of their sexual orientation, whereas others have been clear about it since childhood and have expressed it since a young age. Expressing and exploring gender identity and roles is also a part of normal development. The process of understanding and expressing one’s sexual orientation and gender identity is unique to each individual. It is not a one-time event and personal, cultural, and social factors may influence how one expresses their sexual orientation and gender identity.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUPPORTING LGBTQ+ YOUTH
TIPS FOR LGBTQ+ ADULT ALLIES
SUPPORTING LGBTQ+ YOUTH
Be open and approachable. Ask questions, and then listen. Share your own experiences of growing up.
Let them tell you. Questioning teens may not have talked to you or other adults, either because they don’t identify as LGBTQIA+ or because they’re not ready yet.
Lead by example. Teens may look to you for clues as to how you feel about their sexuality.
Create an open, respectful environment within your home, school, and community. You may not be the only person who is questioning a teen’s sexuality. Show your support and acceptance of diverse sexuality.
Encourage the teen to seek support. Knowing that they have a strong support network in addition to you will help the teen to open up.
Managing your own feelings about the teen’s future. LGBTQ+ teens shouldn’t be rushed into talking about their sexuality before they’re ready. It takes time for them to understand themselves.
WHAT CAN ORGANIZATIONS DO TO SUPPORT LGBTQ+ YOUTH
Create a safe, welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ youth.
Review and edit policies to be inclusive of all people including LGBTQ+ youth.
Require professional development training for all staff and volunteers that raises awareness about how to be a LGBTQ+ ally.
Host LGBTQ+ friendly events and activities.
Use inclusive language and pronouns.
Explore personal biases and implicit biases that may impact your support for all yout.