How to Support 2SLGBTQIA+ Teens Coming Out
The LGBTQ movement has made some landmark strides in the past decade. Health insurance discrimination has been prevented, and same-sex marriage has been legalized nationwide. This, in combination with greater awareness and visibility of two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual and additional sexual orientations and gender identities (2SLGBTQIA+), individuals in society and the media, has helped 2SLGBTQIA+ teens find the courage to come out to their families and friends.
Though it is easier for teens to come out today than in generations past, that does not mean they do not need support, and plenty of it. Here are a few important ways you can support 2SLGBTQIA+ teens in coming out:
1. Encourage Authenticity
There are different levels of coming out. Some teenagers may find the courage to say the words, yet still have a hard time fully expressing themselves. If left unchecked, this muted self-expression can lead to anxiety and depression down the road. Try to find ways to let young people in your life know they can be 100% authentic around you.
2. Help Create Safe Spaces
Take a look around your local community to see if there are safe spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. If not, what can you do to change that? You might want to consider contacting school board officials and encourage them to adopt inclusive policies. Another way to ensure your community is safe for 2SLGBTQIA+ teens is to not tolerate hate speech. There are also many resources online that offer the best practices in creating safe spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth.
3. Join the Fight
Though the 2SLGBTQIA+ movement has come a long way, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure full 2SLGBTQIA+ equality. You can join the fight and stay up-to-date on local, provincial, and federal advocacy.
If you know a 2SLGBTQIA+ teen who needs some extra support and encouragement while coming out, you might suggest they speak with a professional counsellor who can facilitate their communication with family members and also offer coping tools and strategies. Contact me today if any of the above applies to you or someone you love.