How To Offer Support To The LGBTQ+ Youth In Your Life

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by Autumn Gillette

For LGBTQ+ young people, having a supportive adult around can be the biggest contributor to future well-being. A strong allyship often starts with small changes to your everyday behavior. 

The pandemic has made the experiences of young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans or questioning even more challenging than usual. While for some, the need for virtual learning has taken away access to valuable mental health services, others are stuck inside homes with unsupportive adults. The consequences can have lasting impacts.

Here are three simple things you can do while working or interacting remotely.

Use Gender-Neutral Terms

When referring to a group, avoid gendered phrases like “boys and girls,” or “ladies and gentlemen,” which excludes some people on the gender spectrum. Switch to words like “folks” or “friends” instead.

Share Your Pronouns on Zoom Calls

Add pronouns under your name during virtual meetings to make it easier for others to do the same. This can also signal an affirmation of others’ gender identities. Here’s an easy way to set it up on Zoom.

Express Your Allyship With a Safe Zone Symbol in Your Background

Safe zone stickers and signs can be found in a number of designs, often with a rainbow pattern. Consider using a safe zone symbol nearby to designate yourself as an ally during virtual meetings or events. Remember to avoid posting a symbol in shared spaces that other adults have access to.

Supporting a Young LGBTQ+ Person Through Conversation

Talking with young people about topics such as coming out, safe dating and sex can be uncharted territory for some people, so it’s best to get educated on LBGTQ+ topics beforehand. Luckily, there are some incredible free resources online, including The Safe Zone Project and The Trevor Project.

Here are a few things to remember during these conversations:

When a Young Person Comes Out to You

It’s important to listen to and encourage a person when they come out to you. A good response might be “I’m so glad you shared that with me. What can I do to support you with this?” It’s also crucial to protect a person’s confidentiality – remember that they might be out to some people, but not all. Here’s a more comprehensive guide to handling coming-out conversations.

Communication Regarding Sex and Dating

More than ever, young people are relying on the internet, strangers online, and especially pornography as a replacement for sexual education. It’s crucial to find ways to communicate with LBGTQ+ young people about safe sex and healthy dating. Sharing educational resources for questions they may not be comfortable to ask can be useful. Day One provides free, downloadable Know Your Rights Guides on a wide range of topics, including LGTBQ+ Dating Violence, Consent and Coercion, and more. Our guides are available in both English and Spanish for ease of access.

 In addition, here’s a link to a page on the Trevor Project website designed to help with FAQs from LGBTQ+ youth and allies, which includes links to phone hotlines. 

Help Prevent or Address Teen Dating Violence

According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, LBGTQ+ people have been more susceptible to dating violence during Covid-19. For Black, Native American, Asian or Latinx people, the statistics are even more disparaging. To learn more about preventative education addressing dating violence or direct services available to youth, visit  

Learn More About Organizations That Can Help

Becoming knowledgeable about helpful resources can make you a powerful ally. Day One offers workshops for youth-serving adults or corporate interest groups on a wide variety of topics, including working with LGTBQ+ survivors. We are also currently hosting free online trainings for parents and caregivers on modeling healthy relationships, talking about dating abuse at home, and more! 

In addition to Day One’s resources, both for adults and for young survivors, there are several other nonprofit organizations that offer help:  

  • GLAD offers free legal help to people in the New England area seeking to update their legal name and gender on federal and state documents.
  • The Trevor Project has put out a guide for LGBTQ+ youth on understanding and handling pandemic-related stress.
  • True Colors United offers Covid-19 resources and help for LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness. 
  • B4CK provides free chest binders for trans kids who cannot afford or safely obtain chest binders

Small steps can help you make a lasting impact on a young LGBTQ+ person’s life, and understanding how to help can make a huge difference.

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