Teens across the United States are currently facing record-high rates of mental health challenges—and LGBTQ+ teens are among the most profoundly impacted by this troubling trend. A global pandemic, remote schooling, and increased social media use are thought to be contributing factors to this unprecedented mental health crisis among LGBTQ+ youth.
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69 percent of LGBTQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in the past year, compared with 29 percent of cisgender male students and 35 percent of cisgender heterosexual students.
Another recent study, however, revealed just how much of a difference supportive parents can make in the lives of LGBTQ+ teens. The study showed that LGBTQ+ youth who felt greater support from parents tended to have fewer depressive symptoms than those lacking a strong support system at home.
Resources for Parents
To provide the best support for your LGBTQ+ teen at home, here are 4 helpful resources for parents of LGBTQ+ kids—
PFLAG’s Tips on Supporting Your LGBTQ+ Kids and Yourself During the Coming-Out Process
If your child has recently come out to you, this is a great resource to help you support your LGBTQ+ teen as they share their identity with more people. From gender-neutral parenting to neopronouns, you may be coming across a lot of concepts that are new to you during this process—and it’s natural to have lots of questions! This resource can help you focus on the most important part of parenting an LGBTQ+ teen—simply loving and caring for them (and yourself!) as you navigate their identity together.
HRC’s Guide to Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children
And HRC’s Quick Guide to In-School Transitions
Many transgender children face unique and complex challenges, especially at school. Among those challenges include navigating a potential gender transition at school, and possibly introducing new pronouns or a new name to the people in their lives. These two resources from the Human Rights Campaign are particularly helpful for parents of transgender and gender-nonconforming kids.
Bullying prevention organization PREVNet’s Guide for Parents about LGBTQ Youth Bullying
Most parents worry about bullying—but data shows that LGBTQ+ youth experience bullying at higher rates than other kids, making this a particularly challenging topic for families of LGBTQ+ teens. This guide for parents from the violence prevention organization PREVNet breaks down the most important things to know about supporting LGBTQ+ students faced with bullying at school or online.
Resources for LGBTQ+ teens
The following 4 resources are made especially for teens. To show support for your LGBTQ+ teen, share these resources with them and allow them some space to explore them on their own. Be sure to leave the door open for any questions, thoughts, or feelings that come up as they learn more—
The Trevor Project
This organization is dedicated to the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth. At their website, your child can access helpful resources on dozens of topics, and join a safe online community of LGBTQ+ peers. It’s important to note that the suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth are much higher than among non-LGBTQ+ teens, so The Trevor Project also has a team of trained crisis counselors who are on call 24/7 to support LGBTQ+ youth in crisis.
This online community hosts online support groups for LGBTQ+ youth—in particular, transgender and gender nonconforming teens. Their website also features teen-created content about the lives of young transgender and gender-expansive people.
This network of Genders & Sexualities Alliance Clubs (formerly known as Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs) have been working together to create safer spaces in schools for LGBTQ+ students since the 1990s. On their website, your child can find the closest GSA, or even start one of their own. They also have lots of helpful resources about gender, sexual orientation, bullying, and generating some creative Pride month activities for students!
Advocates for Youth’s I Think I Might Be Series
This collection of resources is written by and for LGBTQ+ young people. This is a great collection for a teen who is thinking about their sexual orientation, or who finds that the gender they were assigned at birth does not fit them.
Need help getting the conversation started at home? Try suggesting some fun Pride activities for kids and parents to do together, or read books featuring LGBTQ+ characters. Mental health in LGBTQ+ teens is a big concern, so you will also want to support their mental health by knowing the best things families can do when a child comes out as queer, and how to create welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.
There’s so much content out there about LGBTQ+ issues, it can be hard to know which ones are the most helpful and reliable. These resources for LGBTQ+ teens and their parents will provide a solid foundation for navigating your LGBTQ+ child’s identity together.
Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.
For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.