You’ve heard the words “gay,” or “lesbian” and you’ve also no doubt heard discussion about LGTBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Questioning) individuals in the media as well as by people all around you. Now suddenly your own child has come out to you and you find you’re confronting a whole range of emotions.

It’s most important first and foremost to recognize that there has never been a more important time for you to be there for your child. You may already recognize this, but that doesn’t keep you from asking how you’re going to manage the challenges you see ahead yet still face your own conflicting feelings? The first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone!

This section is intended to help raise some important issues for your consideration as well as provide resources where you can find help and support. We have also included in this section the voices of older LGBTQ youth from the organization PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} who share their experiences and advice for parents.

Tips To Parents

Two girls have their arms around each other as they look back over their shoulders at the camera. and Time magazine cover has photo of young male with the headline, 'The Battle over Gay Teens.'
  1. Try to keep the lines of communication open. Use the Advice to Parents we offer on this site as a guide.

    Your child really needs you! It’s important that you can be there for your child. Praise your child for coming to you. Recognize that it means a great deal that your child has taken this first step. No matter what you’re feeling at the moment, make sure to acknowledge that fact.

  2. You are not alone! Get support for yourself and your child in your community. Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is one excellent place to start:

  3. Find educational resources to help you learn more. A good place to start on the Internet is: Also see

    For example: Do you know what sexual orientation and gender identity mean? Get a glossary of terms at:

  4. Ask your child before you come out on his/her behalf to anyone. You have your child’s trust; you mustn’t betray that trust by speaking to others on his/her behalf before your child is ready. This includes other family members, friends, colleagues, teachers, etc.

  5. Find out more about what’s happening in the world around you.

    What’s happening at the child’s school? Is there a Gay Straight Alliance that could offer support? What policies are in place concerning harassment? Is there any resource person that you might turn to for help in the school such a school counselor or teacher? Does the administration demonstrate awareness of the situation? (Be sure that your child has agreed with #4 before you proceed.)

    What’s happening in your local community? Are there local LGBT organizations that can be of help and support? If you live in a small community, try to locate groups in the surrounding area that can help direct you to resources and provide advice. Also national organizations will be of assistance in helping you locate help and support.

    Learn more about local, state and federal policies that are currently in place concerning the rights of LGBT individuals. Get involved!

  6. Don't make this discovery about your child ALL there is! Don't make this discovery about your child ALL there is!

    As Lisa Mauer of the Center for LGBT Education at Ithaca College points out,
    “just because your child has come out as GLBT does not mean the young person's whole world revolves around sexual orientation or gender identity. It will be a big part of who the youth is, especially during the process of figuring it all out, including what it means to be GLBT. Still, being GLBT isn't the sum of life for your child, and it is vital to encourage your child in other aspects of life, such as school, sports, hobbies, friends, and part-time jobs.”

    It’s also important for parents to remember that the world is continuing to make important changes. Consider the adult members of the LGBT community who responded in huge numbers when given the opportunity to share their stories with teens as part of the It Gets Better Project ( . These stories help serve as a poignant reminder that despite the harassment your child may be currently facing, and all the many challenges, obstacles and barriers that you both may now be encountering, there can be a better future ahead. Your child has every chance of finding happiness as an LGBT adult.

    As experienced parents of both straight and gay teens so well know, the road to adulthood often presents many unexpected turns. Yet with our unwavering unconditional love and support, our children can survive and thrive in this ever changing world.

    Adapted from: Lisa Maurer’s Ten Tips for Parents of a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender Child


Youth Offer Advice to Parents

The Washington State-based organization PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} generously agreed to share this video excerpt which offers advice for parents.

The youth you will hear speaking represent a group of twenty-six young people who participated in the filming of PUT THIS ON THE {MAP}’s ground-breaking 34-minute documentary. In the documentary, these courageous youth candidly share their stories of social isolation, violence, fearlessness and liberation.

The views these youth express are, based on their own experiences, what they feel would be helpful to parents of LGBTQ youth.

For more information about how to purchase your copy of the PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} DVD, we encourage you to visit

THIS IS for parents from Sid Jordan on Vimeo.

As you try to understand more about the youth perspective, you may find it helpful to visit the website YouthResource, a website created by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ). The website offers a list of frequently asked questions on the minds of youth. The questions range from confusion about their very identity, to feelings of isolation and wondering how to overcome feeling so alone, questioning how to deal with the harassment and bullying they feel, issues of safer sex and how to deal with a number of what the site terms “tough situations.”

For the full set of questions and answers, click here.


Fear of Coming Out to Family

Too often, youth feel completely alone and isolated in facing the major life issues they see themselves confronting. One of these major questions concerns when would be the “right time” for the young person to come out to their family. In their answer to this question, the LGBTQ peer educators on the YouthResources website point out that coming out to one’s parents “is a decision with potentially life-altering consequences. While most all youth hope for their parents’ acceptance, many fear rejection.”

Remember that your child is already very likely experiencing major feelings of isolation and loneliness outside your home. It’s also extremely likely that they are the victim of bullying and harassment by their peers both in and outside of school. Research tells us that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in school. (


Family Support is Critical

Two males are shown with their backs to the camera; one male has his arm around the other’s waist. Dan Savage, the author, journalist and gay rights activist who initiated the It Gets Better Video Project following the rash of suicides by gay young people, (See: YouTube link) pointed out during a TV interview that both he and his brother has been bullied during their teens. His brother was not gay but was bullied for being “a kind of geek.” In Dan’s case, he was bullied for being gay. Dan felt his situation was however much different from that of his brother’s in that his brother had the constant support of his parents throughout this ordeal. Dan, on the other hand, had great fear about coming out to his family and therefore was left to feel even more alone and isolated.

The Family Acceptance Project, San Francisco State University, studies the reactions families have to their LGBT children. The results of their work tell us ( that the ways a family expresses their reactions to their child’s LGBT identity can impact the child’s health and mental outcomes. Family accepting reactions can serve as a major protective factor in helping to contribute to the child’s overall well-being. On the other hand, rejecting reactions have been found to be linked with risk factors for such major concerns as sexual health, HIV infection, substance use, depression, and suicide. (


Getting Support for Myself

“Your first reaction to learning that your loved one is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning can range anywhere from anger to sadness, fear to hurt, confusion to grief, and anywhere and everything in between. These emotions and the thousands of others that parents, families, and friends experience as they navigate their loved ones coming out process are normal.” These words open the section Coming Out Help for Friends and Family on the PFLAG website (

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) would like you to know that you are not alone! PFLAG is a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 500 affiliates across the United States. There are more than 350 chapters in all 50 states. To find a chapter near you, go to

If you’re seeking additional resources for parents, be sure to check out the PFLAG Talk and TGS PFLAG Virtual Library with lots of links for family support at Also see For a listing of faith-based organizations, see


Resources to Discuss with Your Child

Here is a partial side view of two people wearing T-shirts and pants holding hands, with the focus on their clasped hands. Online Video Channel: It Gets Better Project

Video can be very useful in helping you to raise and discuss difficult issues with your child. One very difficult issue is the harassment many LGBT youth experience daily. How much do you know about the harassment your child is experiencing and how he/she is currently feeling about what’s been happening?

One source of video that’s readily accessible can be found at the It Gets Better Project ( After a series of highly publicized suicides of several gay youth in 2010, Dan Savage, author, journalist, and gay activist, created the It Gets Better Project. Dan wanted to do something to reach out to teens who are being harassed at school for being gay. He felt that if he could just have 5 minutes to talk to these kids and let them know that things do get better, he might have a chance of helping to prevent the tragic events that followed. What he found out after creating the channel was that many people shared his feelings!

The It Gets Better Project is an online video channel designed to reach out to gay teens. Dan and his partner of 16 years Terry initiated the project with their own stories of surviving school bullying and moving on to build successful careers while enjoying happy home lives. The video channel was an instant success attracting huge numbers of people from public figures and celebrities to ordinary folks who wanted to tell young people their stories of surviving school bullying and going on to thrive in adulthood.

Visit this site with your child and talk about some of the stories that you hear in more detail. How did these people describe their experiences? Does this still happen today in the same way to students? How is it the same? How does it feel different? What has happened to this person since they’ve become an adult? How do they describe their life now? What is this person trying to tell us? What do you think about his/her message? (As you further explore your child’s feelings here, you may also wish to seek the help of a professional or other support person/group during this vulnerable time in your child’s life. Many sources of support are available.)

Also you might want to check out the young Broadway stars singing their version of the ‘It Gets Better” message (


One of the things you can do to help your child feel less alone and isolated is to encourage them to join a Gay Straight Alliance. Washington’s State’s Gay-Straight Alliance Network for instance is a youth-led project of GLSEN Washington State ( To find out more about the more than 4,000 Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) registered with GLSEN and to locate one near you, see

There are hundreds of groups across the country created to support GLBT individuals, their families and friends. For a listing of some of these organizations, see the PFLAG website at Also for a listing of faith-based organizations, see


The Internet is filled with information and alluring places that your child may want to visit to ask questions and express concerns. It’s very important that you discuss Online Safety with your child as well as the tips for Social Networking safety

One sample website you may want to suggest is YouthResources, ( a website developed by and for LGBTQ youth discussing issues concerning sexual health as well other major issues of concern.

As parents we want to be sure that our children learn to discriminate those sources where both you and they would feel comfortable that they are safe in asking their questions and expressing their concerns. An important first step in checking on a website is to ask who is sponsoring it. What kinds of experience does the organization have in working with LGBTQ youth? Are they a not-for-profit group or are they selling some type of product or service? What is their motivation in trying to reach youth? This resource is sponsored by a reputable organization Advocates for Youth