LGBTQ+ Parent Resources

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Best Practice Resources for Parents and Families to Support Their LGBTQ+ Child!

Parents, Families and Foster Caregivers Make a Difference in Children's Health, Well-Being & School Success
Parents, families and other caregivers have a significant impact on children’s well-being and success in school and beyond. When children are LGBTQ+ or are expressing questions about their gender or sexuality, it is these adults who guide the children.
What is abundantly clear, according to research that has been substantiated many times over, is that:
"Families, parents, foster parents, caregivers and guardians can have a very dramatic impact on their LGBT children. We found that family acceptance promotes well-being and helps protect LGBT young people against risk. And family rejection has a serious impact on a gay or transgender young person’s risk for health and mental health problems."
When parents, families and other caregivers are able to be accepting, young people and their families and caregivers are more likely to believe they can live a happy life.   
When caregiving adults find this challenging, there is support available through the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), a program that supports families in navigating the uncertainty of how to proceed. FAP also provides information for those who disapprove of their child’s exploration or identity and helps them navigate and hold on to both their love for their child and their beliefs.
Organizations and resources are for reference and information only and do not imply endorsement by the Maine Department of Education.
What Can Family Support Look Like?
Research shows that supportive family and caregivers can have a significant positive impact on reducing student depression, anxiety and substance use while increasing school completion and life success. Similarly, family members or other caregivers who affirm the young person’s identity help build the young person’s self-worth and self-esteem. Research from the Family Acceptance Project shows us specific ways to reduce an LGBTQ+ young person’s risk for health and mental health challenges, promote their well-being, and help them stay connected to their families.
Support begins with telling the child that you love and support them, no matter how they identify. One key step is to talk with the child about their LGBTQ+ identity and be a good listener. If the child shares their inner world about their identity, it is important to express affection for them as your child, regardless of their identity considerations.
If the young person discloses their LGBTQ+ identity, consider showing support by:
  • Responding in an affirming, supportive way, such as saying "Thank you for telling me. How can I support you? Would you like others to know?"
  • Asking how they prefer to be addressed.
  • Using the name and pronouns (such as he, she, or they) they want to use.
  • Respecting their privacy.
  • Allowing them to decide when to come out about their LGBTQ+ identity and to whom.
  • Avoiding double standards.
  • Allow them to discuss feelings of attraction and engage in age-appropriate romantic relationships, as allowed for youth who do not identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Connecting them with other LGBTQ+ youth and youth-affirming organizations.
For some families, it may be challenging to accept the child’s identity due to values or personal belief/s. Some members of the family may feel differently about the child’s identity, causing internal family strife. Help family members and your child get the resources and support each needs to negotiate this journey. For more information, see the resources listed at the end of this section.
Research also shows that many behaviors used by parents and caregivers to reject their child’s LGBTQ+ identity put the youth at high risk of suicide, depression and other health problems. These rejecting behaviors include: hitting, or physically hurting the child because of their identity; verbal harassment or name-calling because of the child’s identity; excluding youth from family and family activities; blocking access to LGBTQ+ friends, events & resources; pressuring the child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine; telling the child that they will be punished within their faith tradition because of their identity; telling the child that how they look or act shames them and the family; or making the child keep their identity a secret in the family and not letting them talk about it.
Supportive families and caregivers truly can change the futures of their LGBTQ+ youth. Get support to make sure that you can support the young LGBTQ+ person.
Recognizing the importance of family support on children’s overall well-being and their success in school, the Department of Education provides this list of resources for parents and families.
Family Acceptance Project
Human Rights Campaign
What Are My Child's Rights in School?
Students have rights, defined by our legal system, within their schools and communities: 




Where Can I Find LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources?
While LGBTQ+ identifying students may report more anxiety, depression and mental health symptoms than their peers, being LGBTQ+ itself, is NOT a mental health illness! Students and their families who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, experience negative stigmas including: historical oppression, persistent prejudice, and discrimination in their everyday lives. The disproportionate impacts to their physical and mental health are symptoms that can result from these experiences.


Finding Mental Health Supports:
School based staff who can help connect you to resources:
  • School Social Workers or Clinicians
  • School Counselors
  • School Nurse
  • Trusted Teachers, Educators and Coaches
Also, the Trevor Project has a number of resources to provide mental health support for youth.
Text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200
  • 1-800-822-5999 (Knox, Waldo, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Eastern Cumberland Counties).
  • 1-800-871-7741 (anywhere in Maine).
Sexual Assault Support Services:
Maine Coalition Against Sex Assault
Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine
Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program
Suicide Prevention and Support:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Trevor Project LGBTQ+ Chat or Text 
NAMI Youth Peer Text Support Line
  • This peer support text line is for youth 14 - 20 years old and staffed by individuals under 23 years of age.
  • Text to: (207) 515 - 8398
Maine 211 for Mental Health 
  • Find Counseling or Therapists Support Groups Resources
Resources and Supports for Families 
LGBTQ+ children who have supportive families are significantly less likely to be engaging in high-risk behaviors such as self-harm, substance use, and thinking about suicide.  Your support matters! 
Parent Support Groups 
Parent Guides and Resources