Now is the time to support LGBTQ+ children and loved ones

supporting families with LGBTQ+ Children

JFCS’ Family Life Education and J-Pride programs will host a three-session educational series in December

By Leah Persky, PhD & CFLE, Manager of Family Life Education, and Isaac Ezra Jennings, J-Pride Coordinator

Many parents and families want to support their children, relatives and/or friends who are exploring or questioning their own gender identity and sexuality. Many family members might be unsure how to best support a relative or child who has recently come out or has transitioned. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. This is such an important topic that we must raise awareness about.

J-Pride and Family Life Education at JFCS are collaborating to support families in this arena – to reduce the stigma or confusion people may feel and to explore ways to support LGBTQ+ loved ones. We will be hosting a three-session educational series, “Supporting Families with LGBTQ+ Children,” Dec. 1, 8, and 15 that is free and open to the community. We will draw on lived experience and research from a variety of fields, offering practical strategies for learning, communication and action to positively impact your loved one and strengthen your family.

Research demonstrates that children who are exploring their own gender identity or sexuality, who have the support of their family members, have better physical and mental health outcomes. This is true even in cases where parents struggle with the LGBTQ+ component of their child’s identity and still offer support and love (Family Acceptance Project, 2022). LGBTQ+ youth are at an increased risk for mental illness, suicide, substance use disorder, and homelessness (Family Acceptance Project).

Further, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are four times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than non-LGBTQ people (UCLA School of Law, 2020). Now is the time to raise awareness of this issue in our communities and our own families. We are compelled to work to end this senseless and tragic violence and poor health outcomes. This can start with collaboration, discussion, education and the commitment to supporting those around you who need it. We can all play an important part to end the stigma and misunderstanding.

Being supportive through learning together and having open communication is crucial for the well-being of an LGBTQ+ child. Offering this support may be confusing or challenging for some parents and family members. Through these upcoming sessions, we will explore key topics to better prepare families and parents to understand, communicate more comfortably, and create a safe and supportive environment for their family member.

We welcome all parents, caregivers and family members to join these sessions, where we will explore the power of language and the how and why of gender pronouns. We will also explore developmental milestones and what is considered “normal” for child development as it relates to gender and sexual identity. Many parents are often looking for clear-cut answers to their questions about what is developmentally normal. Spoiler alert: the reality of child development is quite diverse and there are few hard and fast answers.

Our goal with this series is to empower parents to trust themselves and their children to explore these ideas together and with support and resources at the ready. Lastly, we will partner with a JFCS counseling staff member to explore how to support the mental well-being of people in your life who are LGBTQ+, including those who are non-binary, gender fluid, or questioning.

Coming together to learn, raise awareness, collaborate and share is crucial. This is what will help empower parents and family members, reduce social stigma, and lead to healthier communities and families. We hope you will join us for one or all three of these sessions. You can register here for this free event.