As my daughter became more open as a gay person, I became more open and active as a gay parent. Through the years, we invited her friends to meals and visits. I spoke more openly about my experiences when other parents talked of more traditional parenting challenges. I reached out to parents of other LGBTQ youth. I spoke publicly about raising an LGBTQ child and the challenges and discrimination they face.
Periodically someone would ask me to meet with their relative, neighbor or friend whose child had just come out. They hoped I might help them understand or find resources or just listen. What has startled me over the last 17 years is how little this parent experience has changed.
Parents have a reason to be worried
Society may be more accepting, gay marriage legal, and openly queer celebrities common, but parents know the life of an LGBTQ kid will have additional challenges. They know the hate speech, discrimination and overt or subtle ostracism they have witnessed – or done themselves – will be the future for their child.
They may know – or soon learn – other facts that add to their worry. That LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be homeless (an estimated 40% of homeless are LGBTQ). That they are more likely to use illegal drugs or attempt suicide. They may know LGBTQ are less likely to graduate high school, less likely to attend college or graduate, more likely to be in blue-collar jobs, and more likely to be lower income or struggling for employment.
The Worst Risk Is Not Being LGBTQ – It’s Family Rejection
However, what very few parents know early on is how enormous their impact will be on the future health and success of their child. They do not know that recent research has shown the biggest factor in reducing negative outcomes for an LGBTQ child is family support and acceptance. They do not know it’s not being LGBTQ that puts their child at risk, it’s family rejection. Part of my hope in this website is to provide that information early on, and couple it with practical suggestions about how to support their child.
As children are coming out at younger ages they are living in the family home for longer periods before independence or college. Getting the family atmosphere right becomes even more important. Most parents deeply love their child and want the best for them. I want to help them find their own best path.
Bringing Parent Resources Together – Delivering Everywhere
Though there are many resources for LGBTQ individuals, there are far fewer for the parents. I hope this website provides facts, resources, ideas and insights. I hope is it a place where parents can be heard and tell their stories, ask questions of other parents on the forum, process their concerns and hope, and find resources for ongoing support. We’ve tried to pull the best information into this website and filled in as we got new questions and concerns. We will continue to do so.
We want to provide help and hope as each family finds their unique path forward. Many existing resources are more available in larger cities. We hope this website can reach every community, no matter how small or remote, and any parent searching online in a sleepless night.
Founder, Strong Family Alliance