During LGBTQ History Month and beyond, parents may be wondering how they can do more to support queer and trans children and teens. Whether you have a queer or trans child at home or not, it’s important to make sure your family is welcoming to LGBTQ kids who may be in your kid’s class or friend group.
Providing physical or virtual spaces where they can be themselves is key to preventing some of the hardships that can arise for queer, trans, and nonbinary youth. Young LGBTQ people are at higher risk than other kids for things like depression, homelessness, and suicide.
Letting the kids in your life know that your home is LGBTQ-friendly could provide a crucial safe space for young people who may not feel safe elsewhere because of bullying or family rejection. Here are 5 things you can do to create a welcoming space for queer and trans kids:
- Use inclusive language. Offering your own pronouns (she/her, or they/their for example) as part of your introduction when you meet your kid’s classmates, or using “they” instead of “she” or “he” when you aren’t sure of someone’s gender are ways you can use language to signal that you validate LGBTQ identities. These simple language swaps can help you update your vocabulary!
- Provide your kids with books, toys, and media that features LGBTQ characters. So many queer and trans teens suffer in isolation. It’s important to show kids that there are people who feel the way they do, and showing them content with LGBTQ characters goes a long way to normalize those identities.
- Don’t gloss over the hard parts. Showing your kids that you are aware of some of the difficulties LGBTQ people are faced with not only shows that you empathize with them, but that you are going to protect them as best you can, no matter what.
- Education yourself and your family. Unfortunately, most schools do not teach their students LGBTQ history, so it’s up to parents and caregivers to fill in that knowledge gap. Learning about these LGBTQ heroes is a great place to start!
- Make sure they know the door is always open. Don’t pressure kids to open up about their sexual orientation or gender identity, but do let them know that you are there to listen without judgment if they ever want to talk or ask questions.
Loving families are crucial to the healthy development of LGBTQ kids. Providing a safe space and an empathetic ear could make all the difference in a queer, trans, or nonbinary child’s life. Parents can build an environment for their kids that normalizes and affirms all identities, while also cultivating qualities like empathy and open-mindedness in their families.