How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

Positive environments are important to help all youth thrive. However, the health needs of LGBT Youth can differ from their heterosexual peers. On this page, find resources from the CDC, other government agencies, and community organizations for LGBT Youth, their friends, educators, parents, and family members to support positive environments.

How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.

    If you’ve ever wondered if you’re gay, lesbian, or bisexual, you’re not alone. Many teens ask themselves this question, and here are ways to find some answers. For parents and caregivers, finding out your son or daughter is gay, lesbian, or bisexual can present challenges. Learn more about how to be supportive.
    As a student, you have the power to make change in many ways in your school and community.
    GSA clubs are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities.
    Information for LGBT teens on sexual activity, substance use, mental health, discrimination, and violence.
    The It Gets Better Project inspires people across the globe to share their stories and remind the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth that hope is out there, and it will get better.
    The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool designed to empower LGBTQ youth to become actively engaged in their health, and to support the people who provide their care.
    Q Chat Space is a digital LGBTQ+ center where teens join live-chat, professionally facilitated, online support groups. Also available in Spanish (disponible en español).
    Schools should be a young person’s primary center for learning, growing, and building a foundation for success in the world. High school can be challenging for any student, but LGBTQ youth face additional obstacles of harassment, abuse, and violence.
    The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

    Lesson plans, tips and strategies, background information, and additional resources to help youth-serving professionals create safe space for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
    American Psychological Association (APA) Resources

      The Safe and Supportive Schools Project promotes safe and supportive environments to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among adolescents.
      Just the Facts provides information and resources for principals, educators and school personnel who confront sensitive issues involving gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
      Accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation.

    Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school. It is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

      AFY provides lesson plans, tips and strategies, background information, and additional resources to help youth-serving professionals create safe space for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
      Accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation.

      The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth.
      “Coming out” is a lifelong journey of understanding, acknowledging and sharing one’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation with others.
      Information for parents on how youth experience sexual attraction and orientation, as well as how you as a parent or guardian may feel about and deal with youth on this topic.
      Information about PFLAG’s confidential peer support and education in communities.
      Information on how parents can promote positive health outcomes for their LGB teen.
      This resource guide was developed to help practitioners who work in a wide range of settings to understand the critical role of family acceptance and rejection in contributing to the health and well-being of adolescents who identify as LGBT.
      Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. If you know or suspect that your child is involved in bullying, here are several resources that may help.
      Increased access to technology has benefits, but it also can increase the risk of abuse.

    Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    Like most LGBTQ kids, you’re a little nervous about coming out, right? After all, this is BIG NEWS! Even if your parents have an inkling about your identity, it’s another thing to hear it from you. Lay the groundwork now and you’ll feel more at ease for taking this big step toward adulthood. We are Wesley C. Davidson and psychologist Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., and we recently wrote a book specifically for parents on what to do when their child come out. Since we know all about how parents can react, we've provided a list of things you should keep in mind before talking to them about your identity.

    By following our 10 tips, chances are you will get a better response from you parents.

    Choose the Right Time and Place Without Distractions:

    Non-multi-tasking conversations are rare today so it is crucial to make sure that you have your parents’ undivided attention before initiating such a monumental conversation. Neither you nor your parents should be engaged in any other activity (e.g. driving, cooking, watching television, using your phone) when you come out. We also recommend that you don't share your news during other family events (such as a sibling's wedding or holiday dinner with your extended family). This is a private, intimate conversation that deserves respect and quiet. It will be hard for your parents to fully internalize what you are telling them if they are not fully present.

    Accept That Your Parents' First Reaction May Not Be What You Had Hoped:

    Remember that you have had your entire life to come to terms with your sexuality, but your parents may not have given it much thought before you broached the topic with them. It is natural for parents to have preconceived notions or expectations for you, and it may take some time for them to feel comfortable with this new important information you are just now sharing with them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine being told something from a close friend or family member that takes you by complete surprise. Give them some time to sit with the information and try not to judge them (or feel judged by them) if their first response is not what you had imagined.

    Tell the Important People Before Telling the World:

    If possible, you should make an effort to tell your family and close friends about your sexuality or gender before making it public information on social media. We have heard of many instances where parents find out that a child is gay because someone else sees that they changed their status on Facebook or posted a video on YouTube. Often, family members are offended and feel like you don't value your relationship with them enough to tell them such important information about yourself firsthand. We have found that parents (and friends) are more likely to respond better when the news comes directly from you rather than from someone else.

    Ensure for Your Own Safety and Well-Being:

    If, based on their prior remarks or attitudes about the LGBTQ community, you feel that your parents are not going to react well, so much so that they won't tolerate your living in their home as an LGBTQ teenager, then we'd recommend waiting to come out until you are independent from your family. This is especially the case if your parents have a history of verbally abusive or physically aggressive tendencies. You must always put your personal safety first. You can always "test the waters" to gauge how your parents feel about other people in the LGBTQ community before you start opening up to them about this.

    If you absolutely can't wait to come out, and aren't sure if you will be safe after coming out to your parents, you need to make sure you have a back-up plan. This means looking up local LGBTQ shelters, figuring out how much money you need to save in order to live on your own, and reaching out to friends and adults you can trust. Make sure you know who you can reach out to in case you need temporary housing or emotional support.

    Be Very Clear About Who Your Parents Can or Can't Tell:

    We have heard many accounts of teenagers becoming upset with their parents for "spilling the beans" about their sexuality or gender identity. When you come out to family and close friends, especially if it is still early on in your journey, it is important to inform whomever you confide in that they can or cannot tell other people. In some situations, people tell their parents that they are gay and tell them that they are fine with their parents telling anyone they would like (in fact, in many situations, the children prefer this because it is one less potentially awkward conversation that they need to have). In other instances, however, people want to be in control of exactly who is in on what they have regarded as a secret for a long time. The main message is that you cannot expect your parents to read your mind so you should be very clear about with whom (if anyone) they are permitted to discuss your sexuality or gender, including younger siblings, and relatives from a parent’s prior marriage.

    Focus on the Positives from the Outset:

    When you tell your parents you are gay, always be sure that it is coming from a place of love, not from anger or resentment. You may even want to preface the conversation with a statement expressing that you are telling them this because you love them and want to be closer with them and hope for them to know and understand you better. This initial conversation is not the best time to express your own doubts or concerns about being gay because it will likely only fuel your parents' anxieties and also make it seem like you are not fully sure of the certainty of your news. We have found that parents often try to "talk their children out of being gay" as a first response so a good way to avoid that is by using a positive and affirming tone when you are discussing this with them.

    Empathize with Your Parents:

    It may be hard for your heteronormative parents to know how to be the best parent to a gay child because they may have had very little (if any) experience with gay people in general. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and your parents may not have peers they can turn to for parenting advice like they have in the past. Even parents who have the best intentions will frequently "get their lines wrong" and say something unintentionally offensive and hurtful. When that happens, rather than respond with anger, try and engage in a calm conversation in which you explain to them what you need to hear from them and how they can make you feel loved and accepted in the family. In our experience, many parents do have unconditional love for their children, but aren't always able to express that in a way that is clear.

    Important advice for parents of homosexual children.

    When parents learn that their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, they can experience a range of emotions. That could include self-blame (“Did I do something wrong?”), grief (“The child I thought I knew and loved no longer exists.”), worry (“Will my child be discriminated against? Get AIDS?”), religious confusion (“Is my child damned to spend eternity in hell?”), and stigma (“What will people think of my child? Of me?”).

    Conversely, they might also be experiencing relief (“Now I know what’s been bothering my child for all these years!”).

    Or, like most parents, they may experience combination of these feelings.

    So now what should you do?

    If this is your experience, first take a deep breath. (Good advice when first confronting any difficult situation, right?)

    Second, tell yourself you will get through this. And you will. As a matter of fact, you might someday look back and find that you are grateful for the experience of having a gay or lesbian child.

    Yes, you read that right, grateful.

    How do I know? Well, in my study of 65 families of gay and lesbian youth for the book, Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child, I found that some parents get to the point where they believe that the experience of having a gay child actually made them a better person—more open-minded and sensitive to the needs of others, particularly those in other minority groups. Others grew to be proud of their children’s sexual orientation. Yet others found that their relationships with their children grew to be closer, stronger, and more honest than ever before.

    If you just found out your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, you may be thinking that such ideas are preposterous. Well, based on my research and clinical experience with parents just like you, here are some steps you can take that you will likely find helpful.

    1. Find someone to talk to—but not just anyone. As I state in the book and also in an earlier posting, the parents in my study were helped by talking to a trusted friend, relative, coworker, or even a casual acquaintance. These trustworthy confidants let them vent but also corrected some of the misperceptions they absorbed from society, such as that gay people are lonely, unhappy, promiscuous, not family-oriented, unable to have children, or destined for an unhappy life. They also reassured parents that they and their child would be OK. So, look for someone to share your painful feelings with, make sure they are open-minded, progressive, and accepting of LGBT people.

    2. If you do not have someone like this within reach, consider a professional therapist such as a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Members of each of these professions follow a code of ethics that requires them to be knowledgeable, respectful, and tolerant of LGBT people. However, for good measure, before you begin, ask the therapist his or her opinions of LGBT people and lifestyles.

    3. Contact Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). This is a national support and advocacy group primarily for parents of LGBT people that has hundreds of local chapters, so there is likely to be one near you. For the families in my study, nothing helped soothe their guilt, sadness, and worry like talking with other parents, all of whom had been in their shoes and managed to get through the tough times.

    4. Get educated. The PFLAG website has links to books and articles that tell the truth about LGBT people. There are also a bunch of other good resources/books that I list below that you can buy, including my own.

    5. Let your child teach you. Know that your son or daughter came out to you, most probably because they love you and are seeking a more open, honest relationship. They may have something to teach you about LGBT people and also about acceptance and love.

    The fact that you have read this far means that you are willing to take the initial step to reach out and get yourself information—and this is a good indication that no matter how badly you feel now, you will eventually feel better. Keep in mind that you have begun a journey and like all journeys, it is important to keep moving. Godspeed.

    List of Helpful Books for Parents of Gay and Lesbian Children

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    LGBTQ+ representation in young adult literature is still on the rise, and this year’s crop of YA books shows signs the industry may finally be diversifying. Along with stories of white, cisgender teens are tales in which transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth are the heroes and queer people of color get the spotlight.

    Below, we’ve listed 20 of 2020’s LGBTQ+ YA offerings — many of which are available for sale already — with protagonists including a trans brujx, a bisexual K-Pop aspirant, a bigender guardian angel, and characters for whom labels don’t really matter.

    All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

    Journalist George Matthew Johnson reflects on gender identity, structural marginalization, Black joy, and other topics in this YA “memoir-manifesto” meant for queer men of color and the teens who want to support them. “I feel like we are a blueprint generation of ‘out’ Black queer people,” Johnson tells Teen Vogue. “We have always existed but had our stories rejected, hidden, or separated from our Blackness. I wrote this book for us. Those who never got to tell their story and those who need to know the real so they don’t make the same mistakes we did.”

    Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

    In Thomas’ paranormal YA debut, Yadriel seeks to become a brujx to get his traditional Latinx family to accept his true gender… and inadvertently summons the ghost of his school’s resident bad boy. Thomas tells Teen Vogue it was important to acknowledge the struggles QTPOC face daily but also to give readers of that population a reprieve. “There’s also a lot of joy we experience because of our identities, and I wanted to show the good along with the bad,” they add. “Writing Yadriel’s story has given me more courage to embrace my identity, and humor has helped me through some rough times. My hope is my readers will see themselves in his story and feel inspired, too — and if they have a good laugh along the way, all the better!”

    (Expected September 1)

    Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

    200 years after Cinderella met Prince Charming, the kingdom now requires teen girls to attend the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom choose their wives. Sixteen-year-old Sophia — who’s way more interested in tying the knot with her childhood best friend, Erin, than some random man — runs away from the ball and bumps into Constance, Cinderella’s last known descendant, who’s just as eager to topple the patriarchy.

    (Expected July 7)

    Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

    When popular teen Bryson Keller is dared to go out on a date with the first person to ask him out every Monday morning, Kai Sheridan shoots his shot. A dare’s a dare, so Bryson says yes. Even so, Kai knows this straight boy won’t be his happily-ever-after… or will he?

    Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp

    This Is Where It Ends author Marieke Nijkamp returns with a tale of five friends — including Ever, a nonbinary teen, and Finn, a trans boy — reuniting at a cabin for a game that turns deadly in this mystery, a book One of Us Is Lying author Karen M. McManus calls “thrilling in every sense of the word.”

    When a child first comes out to their parents as either being gay or having same-sex attraction, their initial responses are usually the wrong ones, says Chris Doyle, a psychotherapist who specializes in SSA.

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    New York City gay pride parade crowd in this undated photo. | (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

    Although the child has probably already told their closest friends and trusted family members about their thoughts and feelings, the parents are often the last ones to know. And in their panicked state, parents sometimes look for someone to blame or even think about how they might change their child.

    “What I’ve discovered is that the first inclination that parents have when their child comes out is typically the exact opposite of what they need to do,” Doyle told The Christian Post.

    “There’s always a lot of shock,” he explained. “Parents are, in most cases, panicking. They’re trying to figure out, a lot of times, how to change their child. What we do (as counselors) is we encourage them to stop and take the focus away from the child and look at this as a family issue.”

    “When a child in their late-teens or 20s comes out to parents, they’ve been processing this issue for seven, eight or even 10 years,” added Doyle, who provides counseling services to families through the International Healing Foundation. “And they probably told everybody else in their life, except for their parents. Parents, in our experience, are almost always the last ones to know because they’re the most important.”

    He continued, “Parents have to realize that because they just found out that their child’s experiencing this, they’re having a hard time. But it’s been perhaps 10 years in the making, and their child has integrated this into their own worldview and who they are.”

    Since homosexuality is becoming more widely accepted in American society, an increasing number of teens who experience SSA are identifying as gay. “Even Christian teenagers are believing this because they’ve been so indoctrinated by popular culture. They believe that if you experience same-sex attractions, then you’re gay,” Doyle told CP.

    Among the negative responses parents have, according to Doyle, are avoiding the issue by barring their child from talking about SSA or their gay identity; believing that it’s a passing phase; or threatening to kick their older teen or 20-something child out of the house. He also emphasized that parents cannot talk their child out of being gay or having SSA.

    “We know, in our clinical research over the last 25 years, that family culture, environment and other non-biological factors play a significant role in the development of same-sex attraction,” he asserted, adding that parents shouldn’t seek therapy as an attempt to change their child.

    In the book, Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing, written by Richard Cohen, executive director of IHF, Doyle said 12 principles are discussed to help families navigate through SSA and its causes.

    “The first three principles of family healing have nothing to do with the teenager who has same-sex attraction, it actually has to do with the parents,” he emphasized.

    Doyle shared with CP that the first principle deals with personal healing within the family, and to not accuse, blame or shame one parent or the other of doing the wrong thing; and understanding the guilt and grief that can come with learning about a child’s SSA.

    The second principle, he added, is to challenge parents to lead by example by getting into therapy.

    “Many times there may be something going on within the marital relationship that may have hurt the child. The parents may not be divorced, but they may have unresolved conflicts, or unresolved problem within the marriage they need to work out,” he said.

    “One thing we often see in the case of a male child that’s developed same-sex attraction is that the father tends to be a little more passive, and the mother tends to be a little more strong,” Doyle explained. “That might be shaking up the family dynamic in the sense that the parents’ roles aren’t necessarily correct.”

    Principle No. 3, he shared, includes parents understanding that God loves them and their family, and to stop asking God to change their child or thinking that their child is just being rebellious. “God loves them and their family, and it’s not about blame and shame. But they need to stop praying the prayers of: ‘God, please change my child; God, please take this away.'”

    “The right prayer is: ‘God, show us the meaning of our child’s same-sex attraction and why this is happening, so that we can really understand how to do family healing.’ They really need to ask God to open their eyes and understand what’s going on in the family system and in that child’s word,” Doyle continued.

    “So that sort-of leads into the next part of the healing process, which is relational healing. And principle No. 4, which is investigate and discover what the causes are for the child’s same-sex attractions.”

    Doyle explained that there are 10 potential causes of same-sex attraction, which are discussed in the book. And through counseling, parents can help their children resolve some of those issues and heal within the family system.

    “Sometimes, it might not even be that their child needs to see a therapist, especially in a case where you have a young teenager who’s 12, 13 or 14. If the parents are really doing their work, they can understand, OK, there’s a detachment going on between me and my son, and this is one of the contributing factors. I work with the parents and coach the father on how to bond with his son. I work much more with the parents than I would with the child in that sense.”

    Regarding sleepovers and big life events such as parents’ attending a child’s same-sex wedding ceremony, Doyle suggested that parents treat their homosexual child the same as they would their heterosexual child.

    In the case of sleepovers, parents should maintain the same standards for every child and not allow their gay identified or SSA child to have somone they’re attracted to spend the night with them.

    “The same rules should apply to heterosexual couples and homosexual couples,” he said.

    But when it comes down to attending a child’s gay wedding ceremony, Doyle suggested that attending the ceremony doesn’t necessarily reflect that the parents agree with same-sex marriage, their presence merely shows their love for their child.

    “You can go to a same-sex ceremony as an act of love and not agreement,” he explained, adding that there are no hard and fast rules, and that parents should “go to God with some of the issues.”

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    Coming out as LGBTQ can be exciting, overwhelming, and sometimes scary. It’s different for everyone, and you’re the only one who can decide when the time is right.

    What is “coming out”?

    “Coming out” is understanding your own sexual orientation or gender identity and then deciding to share it with some or all of the people in your life. Coming out is different for everyone and there are lots of ways to do it. Some LGBTQ people choose to come out only to themselves, and not to anyone else. Only you can know what’s best for your life right now. Learn more about coming out.

    Should I come out?

    Coming out is a decision that LGBTQ people have to face all the time, with every new person they meet. So it’s something you’ll probably do over and over again throughout your life. The way you approach and experience coming out might change, depending on where you are and who you’re with.

    Coming out is a very personal decision. You — and only you — get to decide if, when, and how you do it. Coming out can be a really important step, and people should only come out if and when they’re ready and feel safe doing so. It’s never ok to pressure someone into coming out or to out a LGBTQ person without their permission.

    You might want to start by talking with other people who are LGBTQ. Sometimes it’s also helpful to talk to adults you trust, like a counselor, social worker, teacher, or supportive family member, to help you decide when you want to come out, and who to come out to.

    For all people — and young people especially — gender and sexuality can change and evolve over time. It might take you a while to fully understand your own sexual orientation and gender identity, and these things can shift as you get older. Sharing a big part of who you are as a person during the time that you’re trying to figure it all out can be complicated.

    For a lot of people, coming out can be a great experience — especially if they have support from their friends, families, and communities. While it can make your relationships better and make you feel great, it can also feel scary depending on who you’re coming out to and what you think their reaction will be. And unfortunately in some places there’s a lot of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia — fear and hatred of people who are LGBTQ. If you think coming out might cause you harm — physical, emotional, or financial — you may decide to wait to come out until you have a plan to take care of yourself.

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    Coming out as bi in three not so easy steps written by remmy fillip. ywca scotland, wellpark kirkhaven enterprise centre, 120 sydney street, glasgow g31 1jf. Coming out as bi in three not so easy steps written by remmy fillip. ywca scotland, wellpark kirkhaven enterprise centre, 120 sydney street, glasgow g31 1jf. remmy’s personal essay on coming out: coming out as bi in three not so easy steps; joy’s exploration of the power of knitting: knitting to empowerment; else’s poem for lgbtq pride: no definition for love; lizzie’s intro to the. Remmy’s personal essay on coming out: coming out as bi in three not so easy steps; joy’s exploration of the power of knitting: knitting to empowerment; else’s poem for lgbtq pride: no definition for love; lizzie’s intro to the problems with our shopping habits: the beginner’s guide to fast fashion. Coming out as gay or lesbian can be a big step, especially as a teen, but with a little planning, it should go more smoothly. start by telling your closest friends and family members who you think will be supportive, so you can get used to telling people about your sexuality. If you don’t want to or feel like doing so could cause harm, it’s 100% ok not to do so — it doesn’t make you ‘fake’ you don’t ever have to “come out of the closet” if you don’t.

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    System Administrator S Guide Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

    Coming out in a letter is a good option for people who express themselves best in writing. writing can also help you organize and present your thoughts without distractions, lip locking nerves, an overload of emotion or interruption from your family members. Millions trust grammarly’s free writing app to make their online writing clear and effective. getting started is simple — download grammarly’s extension today. It will typically take us about 1 2 days to deliver a quality translation of a project containing 3 4 pages. if you want the translator to handle your project within hours, you can use our fast turnaround service. we do our best to meet your expectations, and if there is a reason that we may not meet the deadline, we will inform you in advance.

    5 (not So) Easy Steps To Coming Out | Amanda Gundel | Tedxwcmephamhigh

    high school junior amanda gundel offers some advice about coming out to yourself, your pets, your family and the world. are you cool with that? eleventh

    How to come out as a gay or lesbian teen

    As a therapist who specializes in working with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) teens and their families during the coming-out process, I am often witness to the reactions parents have to a teen revealing his or her sexual identity. These reactions range from “We suspected for quite a while” to “We had no idea!”

    As I work with these families, the expectation is that therapy needs to focus on the issues surrounding the teen coming out. While this support for the LGBTQ teen is vital, in my experience, parents may need just as much support. Parents are often in territory that is new to them and they may not have developed the language to speak effectively and sensitively with their teen, or the awareness to sort through their own changing perspectives.

    One of the most basic things that I have parents focus on is that the child they have lived with and known for years is still the same person. One of the most supportive things any parent can offer at the moment of coming out is simply a hug and reassurance that there is still a relationship based on love. Remember that when a teen comes out to his or her family, he or she has probably been thinking about and building anxiety around how that coming-out experience will play out and be received. Simply connecting with the teen will help to relieve some of the anxiety and reassure the teen that there is still space for him or her in the family story.

    Find a Therapist

    It is also important at the beginning to simply listen and support. Even with parents who suspect that a teen may be gay, it is important that they take time to process some of their own feelings before opening up a litany of questions and concerns. When parents are caught completely off guard when a teen comes out, it is vital to offer loving support to the teen and at the same time recognize that there are questions and concerns that there may not be answers to immediately. Parents may need time to adjust to this new information and to process it.

    As parents begin the process of unraveling their feelings about their teen’s sexual orientation, it is also a good time to gather information and learn more about what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ community beyond stereotypes and popular conceptions. Parents can join organizations such as PFLAG and gather the latest info regarding LGBTQ teens on the GLSEN website. As parents become more educated, they can release some of their fears and build a foundation for conversation with their teen.

    As the process continues, another question that may arise is, “Who gets to know?” The coming-out process is just that, a process, and how the information is disseminated is worth discussing. Often, a teen will come out to one parent first and then ask for that information to be held in confidence for a time. There is no need to force the conversation, and it can help the process a lot if the teen feels like he or she is in charge of who gets to know. It is also common for a sibling, friend, relative, or teacher to know first, so I encourage parents to be OK with the fact they may not be the first to know.

    Finally, don’t forget that while it should be a priority to be open and available to converse with your teen about his or her sexual identity, it is not all that he/she is. He or she is still facing all of the same battles and angst that other teens go through as they develop their identity. Be sure to support LGBTQ teens in all their efforts in life, including school, hobbies, sports, friendships, and spirituality. Though it may seem like the coming-out story is the most important thing on the list at the moment, teens are complex, vital, intriguing, and amazing people who are open to guidance, acceptance, and love in all forms and areas.