SAYiT’s dedicated parents and carers worker, Liz Wilson, reflects on the key role of parents and carers in LGBTQ+ young people’s wellbeing and the importance of making sure they’re supported, too.
All parents and carers worry about their children. We worry about their safety, their mental health, their friendships, the impact of their use of the internet and social media, school and their academic work, climate change, and – as they get older – eating disorders, drugs, alcohol and sexual health. Parents and carers of children who are LGBTQ+ or are questioning their gender or sexuality face additional worries, and this can feel overwhelming.
The world can feel very hostile. Every day in the media there are negative stories about LGBTQ+ – particularly trans – people. Politicians, celebrities, and influential people in the media are given air time to speak and write negatively about trans people and their identities, giving the false impression that we, as parents and carers, are all worried about “the trans issue”. Although this is not true and trans people are NOT a cause of national concern, this hostile culture affects our young people and their parents and carers. LGBTQ+ young people have a higher than average risk of poor mental health, of self-harm, and of attempted and successful suicide. HOWEVER, supportive parents, carers and families can immeasurably help protect young LGBTQ+ people from harm. In fact, a loving, accepting and non-judgemental parent or carer is the biggest protective factor for young LGBTQ+ people.
As a parent or carer you are not alone! If you live in Sheffield or the surrounding area, come to our friendly, inclusive parent and carer support group. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month in a central location and you will be very welcome.
Just email us or fill out our contact form to be added to the parents and carers mailing list and you’ll get all the details of upcoming meetings.
You can also find out more about the group and look at our resources for parents and carers here: https://www.sayit.org.uk/parents-and-carers