How to support your LGBTQ+ child when they come out to you

First of all, be proud of them (and yourself) that your child feels safe and able to share this with you. They have shown that they trust you and can be honest with you. Let them know how glad and proud you are that they have come to you with this and reassure them that they have done the right thing in telling you. Be clear that this will not in any way change how much you love them.


Be open and supportive, remembering that this is a process you will work through together over time. Coming out as LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning) is daunting! You can’t tell your child what their gender identity or sexuality is but you can be there alongside them, on their journey, as they start to work this out for themselves. Listen to them and reassure them that you are 100% on their side.

Is it a phase? 

Sexual orientation and identities grow and evolve over time. Trust that your child will sort this out in their own time and their way. What is more important is how they are being treated than who they are hanging out with. Leave the door open on the conversation so that they can come back and talk with you – put your relationship with them front and centre. Don’t dismiss this as a phase; they have almost certainly thought long and hard about their gender identity or sexuality - let them know that you are taking them seriously.

How do I protect them from a potentially negative family or community response?

You may, understandably, worry about their safety and wellbeing. Tell them that there’s nothing to be ashamed of and that you can work out together how or when they might speak with others.

This generation of young people and children is much more aware of and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community than you might think. You could start a conversation by saying, you’re glad that they are letting you know, and by asking them, “Have you thought about sharing this with your peers?”

You might want to check out their school’s policies for LGBTQ+ students – do your homework! Learn about LGBTQ+ issues. Speak with the school (but only with your child’s permission) about how they might ensure your child won’t be subjected to bullying. Let your child know how to deal with discrimination should they experience it, and that you will always be there to support them.

Help them stay safe, both online and out and about. Make sure you know their rights and help make sure they know these too. Remind them of the support and help that is available to them and help them access it if necessary. This may be counselling, mental health support, and LGBTQ+ youth groups at school or in the community. 

Follow your child’s lead on their gender identity and sexuality andkeep an open mind. Don’t make assumptions.

When they open up to you

When they tell us what's happening in their life, they are watching and gauging our reaction (and more than you might think). If you feel like you weren’t 100% there or that this initially caught you off guard – let them know that, apologise and remind them that you think they are the best thing since sliced bread. "Nothing is wrong here, I wasn’t expecting to hear what you said and I want you to know I am 100% supportive of you."

Let them know how proud you are of them and that they made the right choice to tell you. Be really clear with them that this will not change how much you love them.

Talking about and sharing how you’re feeling is important too. You might feel confused, sad or worried about them. Don’t forget that you can talk about this with friends, other parents or carers and, of course, with a counsellor. Be aware of and respect your child's privacy and confidentiality. 

I work online with parents to help them feel confident in parenting their tween and teenage children. Please see my profile for more information on how we might work together and to get in touch. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People who are constantly rushing, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted as a result. I specialise in relationships, family issues and parenting teens and tweens. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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