LGBTQ + Youth

If a child or adolescent you know is struggling and has come to you for help, you can take steps to assist them achieving a healthy, happy outcome and lifestyle. Below are some important facts about LGBTQ Youth that can help you determine if they may need a higher level of help.

In Maine, 24% of LGBTQ high school students report that they have attempted suicide within the past 12 months. This is almost 4x the rate of suicide attempt for heterosexual students. There are an estimated 1.7 million homeless teens in the United States. Upwards of 40% of these youth identify themselves as LGBTQ.

  • Make sure your environment is safe, welcoming and affirming 100% of the time

  • Educate yourself and find resources to keep in your school or work space

  • Make sure your language (even when joking) is respectful and inclusive

  • Watch movies or TV shows with LGBTQ characters on them and keep a dialogue going

  • Be there to answer questions, offer support, or give a shoulder to cry on when needed

  • Don’t make assumptions (asking boys if they have a girlfriend or vice versa)

  • Commit to making your space free from bullying, hate speech, or discrimination

  • Donate to LGBTQ causes if you can, volunteer at your local homeless shelter or offer to take part in your community’s Pride celebration every June

  • Offer the youth hope whenever possible

  • Display pictures of LGBTQ role models in your classroom and office

  • Offer to help get a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance or Gender Sexuality Alliance) started in your school

  • Integrate LGBTQ historical figures in your curriculum

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LGBTQ youth who reported higher levels of family rejection are 8.4x more likely to attempt suicide than those who experienced little or no family rejection.

Responding to your child coming out to you

  • Remind them that you love them unconditionally

  • Listen and ask open-ended questions (including what their preferred pronouns are for their identity)

  • Take them seriously; don’t call it a “phase” or something they will outgrow

  • Try not to focus on the “why” or possible causes; research continues to show that LGBTQ individuals are born with these identifications, just as heterosexual and cisgender people are

  • Don’t shy away from asking about their safety; ask the important questions about suicidal thoughts or feelings

  • Remind them that they are not alone

  • Commit to finding resources and learning together, as a family

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  • Bisexual (B) - Attracted to men and women, or more than one gender identity

  • Cisgender - Identifies with sex assigned at birth

  • Gay (G) - Attracted to same sex/gender

  • Gender - Society’s idea of what genders are “supposed” to be, or how they act

  • Gender Expression - How one expresses gender identity

  • Gender Identity - Internal and personal sense of what our gender is

  • Gender Non-Conforming - One whose gender expression is, or appears different from what we would expect from their assigned gender

  • Lesbian (L) - A woman who is predominantly attracted to other women

  • Sexual Orientation - Physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to another

  • Transgender (T) - Gender identity does not “match” sex/gender assigned at birth

  • Transitioning - The social/legal/ medical process to make gender identity fit gender expression, presentation, or sex

  • Queer (Q) - A once negative term inclusive of people who are not straight and/or cisgender

  • Questioning (Q) - One who may be processing or ques- tioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity


This list is adapted from The Trevor Project

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