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How to Support LGBT+ Young People Coming Out

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How Can I Help an LGBT+ Young Person to Come Out?

Coming out is a personal choice. You may think a person in your life is LGBT+ but they have yet to come out to you. They are under no obligation to come out and it can be a difficult decision to make. It could be that, that person may not be ready to share their identity, they may feel they are unable to come out, they may feel they should not need to come out when their non-LGBT+ peers don’t, or they may still be questioning whether they are LGBT+. There are many possible reasons. You can support a person when and after they come out, but no one should be pushed or pressured to come out.

As mentioned above, coming out can be a terrifying experience. Before coming out to other people, many LGBT+ people have in mind what the worst outcome could be after hearing the experiences of others. In some cases, LGBT+ young people prepare to leave home as they expect such a negative response from the adults that are meant to care for them. If you think a young person in your care may be LGBT+, talking positively about the LGBT+ community and LGBT+ people when they come up in conversation can be a good way of showing you respect LGBT+ identities. Reminding the young person that you love and care for them no matter what can help them to feel safe. An LGBT+ young person is more likely to feel comfortable in sharing their identity if they feel safe and respected.


What Should I Do When a Young Person Comes Out to Me?

Being told a young person in your care is LGBT+ can be surprising and it can be usual to go on a journey towards acceptance. You can read more about that journey and how people can feel here.

The LGBT+ young person has probably been thinking about how to come out to you for a long time. We have put together some tips to support you in responding to their ‘coming out’.

  • Many LGBT+ young people when they come out will be fearful that their family and friends will hate them for their LGBT+ identity, so it is important to let them know you love and care for them.
  • It is wonderful that a young person has felt safe and comfortable enough to share their LGBT+ identity with you. Do not feel you have to make other trusted adults in their life aware immediately – being LGBT+ is not a child protection or safeguarding issue in itself. Other people can be told as and when the LGBT+ young person is ready to come out to them.
  • It may be that your young person needs you to use new pronouns to refer to them, they might want to change their gender expression and so need to go shopping, they might need some support in coming out to others, etc. You can’t know what support and help they need from you without asking.
  • It is also important to ask them whether they are out to other people. If they are not ‘out’, and they haven’t asked you to tell other people about their LGBT+ identity, you should keep it to yourself. It is up to the LGBT+ person how, and when, they tell others.
  • It is important we all have people we can speak to and share our concerns and worries with. Just because a young person has trusted you with their LGBT+ identity, it doesn’t mean they will know they can come to you for support, so remind them that they can.
  • You may not fully understand their identity, how they are feeling or the steps they want to take going forward, and that’s OK. It’s fine to admit that you don’t understand as long as you also share that you will work hard to understand. Try not to bombard them with questions, but instead if you are looking for more information about the LGBT+ community and LGBT+ identities you can look to websites like this one.
  • You may have a lot to process and understand, and you might have a lot of questions. There are groups for the parents and carers of LGBT+ young people for this reason. You can find out more about some of the groups and how to contact them here.

It is usual for adults in this situation to feel unprepared and unsure what to do. You can explore the pages on this website and seek support from the different parent and carer groups to gain more insight and information about the LGBT+ community. If your young person would like more information about LGBT+ identities, they can explore the young person section of the website, but please be aware it is aimed at young people aged 14 and above.


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