In June, communities around the world remember the challenges of the past for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer individuals, couples and families, and look to the challenges still ahead. In these communities, “Pride” is well recognized to refer to a time of celebration, of mourning, of advocacy and of expression of self without barriers.
Held in June, “Pride” month commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969 in the United States that sparked the LGBT* rights movement. “Pride” events can include celebratory parties and parades as well as quieter ways of marking changes that were hard won and those still desperately needed. Although there have been significant gains in legislative protection of rights and in some societal perceptions and attitudes, LGBT* youth, in particular, are still significantly more vulnerable to bullying, violence and mental health stress such as depression, anxiety or suicidality.
A key protective factor for any LGBT* youth is the active support of family members. Research clearly shows that the presence of active accepting actions, words, and relationships from the family of a youth are strongly associated with positive health outcomes in adulthood. As a family therapist, I have heard a wide range of family responses to LGBT* youth, and some struggle with how to best support their child.
The month of June is a reminder to us all to get active in our expression of self and our support for those we love and care about. For those who are family members of an LGBT* youth or adult, there are many ways we can provide a strong protective net of support that builds resilience and health in our loved ones.
How you can help
Here are some specific ways you can promote the health and resilience of your LGBT* child or those you care about:
- Affirm your child or loved one’s sense of self even if how they identify is different from you or pushes your comfort zone.
- Advocate for fair and safe treatment of LGBT* youth – this may mean talking to other family members, intentionally asking them to be respectful of your child.
- Support your child or loved one to expand their network of family members who know and are growing in understanding of their LGBT* identity. This may mean helping them practice how to respond to questions or negative remarks.
- Connect your child with LGBT* resources and communities. Search out online resources together or go to your local resource centre.
- Go with your child or loved one to affirming LGBT* events – such as Pride month celebrations.
- Believe in the positive future and health of your child or loved one. Perhaps most powerful, sincerely holding an affirmative and positive stance toward the potential health and success of your child will affect all the day-to-day interactions you have together.
The month of June is a reminder and platform to celebrate diversity, growth and loving connection. Find your own way to celebrate and join this important journey in families around the world. And Happy Pride!