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A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teens identified parents using their affirmed name or pronouns as supportive. This can feel like a big transition to parents, but it will get easier over time. Practice in the mirror and with close friends until you no longer have to correct yourself.
For some LGBTQ youth, school functions as a place where they connect with other youth who respect and embrace their identities and use their correct pronouns. Creating a culture of empathy in schools also helps promote the mental health of LGBTQ teens. “Schools play an important role in an LGBTQ+ teen’s life because their home life might not be affirming,” says Hoang.
Focus on representation.
Teens can only truly experience belonging when they see themselves represented in the community, and parents can help to advocate for that. “Having representation is important,” says Paley. “LGBTQ students need to feel seen in the curriculum and in faculty, teachers, and administration so they can see the possibilities for their lives.”
Eskin recommends identifying classrooms and Zoom rooms as “safe places” by using LGBTQ friendly stickers and backgrounds. Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and having supportive policies and procedures in place to address correct usage of names and pronouns and reporting any harassment or bullying that might occur are essential.
Learn about intersectionality, identities and suicide.
Teens tell me that their peers are supportive of them and more understanding about LGBTQ identities, but the adults in their lives need some work. When the adults in their lives know how to help, teens feel secure.