for Parents & Caregivers

If you are navigating a family member or friend’s coming out and are seeking support or a chance to talk, please contact .

When you first became a parent or guardian and thought about your hopes and dreams for your child, you most likely wanted them to be healthy and happy more than anything else. You may also have hoped that your child would be kind and honest, follow family beliefs, find love, and be true to themselves. You might not have thought much about whether your child would be part of the Rainbow community, or the adjustment that might be in store for you, your family, or your broader community. 

Although it may take a little while to get used to the idea of being a parent of a child or youth who is 2SLGBTQIANB+, be assured that with your support your child can still realize all the hopes and dreams that you, and they, want for their life. With a positive and accepting response, you – perhaps more than anyone else – can directly affect their sense of wellbeing, their hope for their future, their desire to be a part of their community, and their ability to lead successful and productive lives.

Understanding Your Own Response

If you responded to your child coming out as 2SLGBTQIANB+ with a mixture of thoughts and emotions, you’re not alone. Some parents feel pride or relief that their child is discovering their true self. Many others are uncertain and feel like they’re treading into unchartered territory. Some parents are devastated by the news and need time and support to show acceptance. Parents are hardwired to protect their children, and when they struggle to support their Rainbow child, the reason often comes down to fear:

  • Fear for your child’s safety, or that they will experience discrimination.
  • Fear that your child will not fit in or will not have any friends.
  • Fear of judgment or rejection from a faith group, friends, or family.
  • Fear that something is “wrong” with your child and that it’s your fault.
  • Fear that your child will experience mental health issues or substance abuse.
  • Fear that being 2SLGBTQIANB+ is described as a sin and in your faith community, and that your child will lose salvation or go to hell.

Fear of the unknown is common, and can be the result of preconceived ideas or just a lack of interactions with 2SLGBTQIANB+ people. The more you open your heart to learning, understanding, and really listening to your child, the less afraid you will be. The less afraid you are, the more love and support you will be able to provide to your child. And the more ways you can offer support, the stronger and happier your child will become.

Understanding Why Your Support is So Important

The biggest reason many people come out as 2SLGBTQIANB+ when they are adults, as opposed to when they are younger, is because they fear rejection from their family, community, or faith group. Supporting your child or youth to be true to who they are will make a lifelong positive impact on their health and happiness in the following ways:

  • Youth who are accepted by their parents have higher self-esteem.
  • Youth who are accepted are much less likely to be depressed or to attempt suicide.
  • Youth who are accepted are much more likely to believe they will have a good life and will become happy, well-adjusted adults.

Sadly, when parents choose not to support their 2SLGBTQIANB+ children, their fears sometimes become a reality:

  • Youth who are rejected by their parents are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide.
  • Youth who are rejected are nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression.
  • Youth who are rejected are more than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs.
  • Youth who are rejected are more than 3 times as likely to engage in risky sexual practices that can lead to HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Youth who are rejected are much more likely to feel that their parents don’t love them and that they are unloveable.

Understanding How to Be Supportive of Your Child or Youth

Thankfully, you don’t need to understand everything about being 2SLGBTQIANB+ right away in order to be supportive. Some parents have many reservations and questions about their child being part of the Rainbow community. Sometimes it may take years to work through them all. You may not be ready to practice all of the items on the following list, but studies show that even if you start with one or two, you can help improve your child’s mental and physical health outcomes:

  • Believe your child when they say they are part of the Rainbow community. Don’t require them to explain how they know – they may not have the words. Trust that they know themselves best.
  • Talk with your child about their identity, but do more listening than speaking. Keep lines of communication open.
  • Express affection when your child tells you they are 2SLGBTQIANB+. They need to know that no matter what, your love for them will not waiver. Thank them for trusting you.
  • Support their identity even if you’re uncomfortable. It may take a while to sift through all your concerns about being 2SLGBTQIANB+, but in the meantime you can still be supportive.
  • Educate yourself. There are many positive resources on being 2SLGBTQIANB+ which can answer your questions and help alleviate your concerns.
  • Support your child’s gender expression. Don’t pressure your child to act more masculine or feminine. If your child has a new name or new pronouns, learn to use them consistently and ask others to do the same.
  • Welcome your child’s 2SLGBTQIANB+ friends and partner to your home. Restricting your child’s access to these friends will not change their identity.
  • Advocate for your child when they are mistreated. Don’t blame your child for being discriminated against, or make them feel that discrimination is justified in any way.
  • Include your Rainbow child in family events. Ask that other family members respect your child. Don’t ask your child to keep their 2SLGBTQIANB+ identity a secret in the family, but also respect their own process of who they want to come out to and when.
  • Bring your child to Rainbow organizations or events. Blocking access to 2SLGBTQIANB+ people, organizations or events causes more harm than good, and contributes towards loneliness and isolation.
  • Connect your child with a 2SLGBTQIANB+ adult role model who can help them navigate their journey in ways you may feel unequipped to do.
  • Work to make your faith community supportive and affirming of Rainbow members, or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your child. Never use God or religion as a way to shame or guilt your Rainbow child.
  • Believe your child can have a happy future – and tell them that!
  • Draw on peer support for yourself. There are many wonderful online support groups as well as in-person groups that are made up of other Rainbow parents who have the same questions and concerns that you do. Being able to talk openly will help you learn and grow and be the best support possible for your Rainbow child.

Every parent wants their child to thrive and be the best they can be. Your love, acceptance and support will make a world of difference for your Rainbow child’s ability to be just that!

*statistics and some information taken from