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Pride Month
A group selfie of white and Black teenagers

Image courtesy

Alexis Bleich's picture

To say this is a fraught Pride Month for LGBTQ+ folks and their allies is truly an understatement. This year’s celebration comes as big swaths of the country are debating and legislating, and getting hysterical about, the very existence of trans kids. How can we, as people who are raising, teaching, and caring for LGBTQ+ kids and teens, support them as we strive to keep them safe? 

Every bone in our bodies may be compelling us to shield our kids from the onslaught of new legislation, hateful speech, and reactionary protests, but it’s important to remember that we cannot hide what is happening from our kids. We can make current events and politics a topic of discussion in age-appropriate ways while not letting our own worries and fears for our kids become their worries and fears. 

For example, a teen might choose (or we might encourage them) to take a break from social media and the news so that their thoughts and feelings aren’t saturated by unnerving, alarming information. Or an elementary schooler who’s feeling alienated can ask their grown up to arrange to spend some time with friends, family or groups that make them feel safe and supported. 

For younger kids, we can help them have context for understanding the push for these anti-LGBTQ bills in the simplest way possible. We can say something like:

“When people are faced with something that they don’t understand, they can become scared and angry. Sometimes this is because not understanding something or noticing that things around you are changing a lot can make people feel small and powerless. And that feeling can make them want to lash out at other people or at what is making them feel this way. It’s not fair and it’s not nice. You’re allowed to be angry! What we can focus on as a family is how we will keep you safe and how we can join the work of keeping other kids safe too.”

And when in doubt, try taking a Fred Rogers “look for the helpers” approach to helping kids feel supported. We can look at the many parents, legislators, public figures, and other LGBTQ+ kids who are speaking out against these injustices and raising money to fight these laws in legislatures and in the courts. We can also become the helpers ourselves and choose to support or fundraise for this work or launch our own campaigns! 

Centering action and agency is especially important during times when we feel helpless and overwhelmed. Oftentimes, and especially if we find ourselves raising families in states that are openly hostile to LGBTQ+ individuals, we may not be able to help our kids publicly and fully embrace their identities AND keep them safe. There is nothing more heartbreaking. When I find myself working with a kid who may not be in a family or community or state where it would be safe to be fully and openly out, we focus on where they CAN BE out and safe - maybe it’s at home or maybe it’s at school, maybe it’s at a friends house or in their own bedroom, and maybe it’s only in their own minds or for the hour each week during our session. That may be all they can have right now. But someday… someday they will be somewhere they can be fully themselves. And as the adults who care about them, it’s our job to work tirelessly to make that someday come sooner. 

It’s also really important to just show up for kids in their day-to-day, not just when fending off the latest political attack on their existence! Here are some of the most frequently discussed topics that gender expansive and queer kids I work with want the adults around them to know: 

  • Coming out (about your gender identity and/or sexual orientation) is scary. Like really really scary. Even for kids who have fantastic and loving relationships with their parents and are 99.9% sure they will be completely accepting, it’s still a really vulnerable step to take.  (Oh and if your kid is coming out to you, don’t make it about you! It might feel innocent or affirming to say something like, “Oh I had a feeling/saw this coming” or giving an anecdote about a documentary or show you recently saw that had a transgender character, but that takes away from emotionally connecting to and supporting your kid). 
  • Sometimes (often!), coming out happens in phases and stages and they aren’t linear. Maybe a kid will want to be out at home but not at school - or vice versa. Or out with immediate family, but not the whole extended clan. Likewise, transitioning or embodying gender identity means something different for every person. There’s no one way or one right way to express your gender identity! 
  • Talking about your own pronouns or using the pronoun “they” more regularly is a great way to open up conversations and is a way to signal to kids that you are open to, and interested in, talking about gender. Remember, pronouns aren’t preferred (they aren’t flavors of ice cream someone is choosing), they just are. And sometimes they change over time. 
  • It’s okay if you slip up on pronouns or names. Just correct yourself and move on - please DO NOT make a big deal apologizing about it! Later, at a more relaxed (and private) time, you can convey to your kiddo how important it is for you to get their name and pronouns correct and that you’re working on it - the neurons in your brain are just still rewiring and taking some time to update. 
  • Don’t ask them if they’re sure or how they know about their gender identity or their sexual orientation (pause and ask yourself, would I ask my cis straight kid to prove that they’re cis and straight?). Exploring different parts of our identities is our job as we grow up. Whether your kid’s identity remains somewhat static or changes significantly over time, they deserve the space to figure that out without judgment, criticism, or pressure. 
  • Ask about what your kid needs - do they need your support in talking to other family members or friends? Do they need extra hugs? Do they want to talk to someone who isn’t you (A family friend? A therapist? Their pediatrician?)? Let them know it’s a standing offer and they don’t have to decide right now. 
  • Find your own support system. Your kid’s journey around their gender identity is theirs. Your journey as their parent is yours, so get yourself a space where you can talk about your questions, your fears, your uncertainties, and your emotional process. Also take some time to educate yourself through reputable sources* so it doesn’t end up being your child’s job to educate you. 

* Don’t feel like you know a lot about gender identity? Confused about gender fluid, non binary, cis, trans? Not sure about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation? 

The Gender Unicorn ( is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with new vocabulary and a new non-binary way of thinking!

The National Center for Transgender Equality ( has a lot of great resources! GLAAD ( also has tips for allies.
Look into finding a local chapter of PFLAG (, an organization that supports queer and trans folks, as well as their parents, families, and allies.

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