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Supporting LGBTQ+ Students: A Guide for Parents and Educators

Parent meeting teacher

Think back to your favorite teacher. What made them so special? Well, one thing most people can agree on is that great teachers care deeply about their students. Their passion goes beyond just teaching—it touches the lives of students. This is especially true for students who identify as LGBTQ+, a diverse group of individuals that includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual orientations and gender identities.

Parents and educators play a vital role in creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ youth. It's crucial to foster a supportive environment at home and collaborate with schools to positively impact the lives of young individuals exploring their identities.

Understanding LGBTQ+ Identities

LGBTQ+ represents a spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. Each individual's journey is unique, and creating a supportive environment is essential to ensure their well-being and academic success.


In the wake of the current social and political climate, educators and parents need to work together to support LGBTQ+ students. These students exist within every community and every classroom, yet they often face inadequate support and adverse outcomes.

    • LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for mental, emotional, and physical health challenges compared to their straight peers. They face higher rates of anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidality, substance abuse, STIs, and unintended pregnancies.
    • They experience homophobic bullying, leading to feelings of unsafety within school environments.
    • Anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes have led to the introduction of numerous discriminatory policies, impacting the rights of gender minorities in the United States.
    • Violence against LGBTQ+ individuals is growing, reflecting a concerning trend of hate violence.


The circumstances facing LGBTQ+ youth underscore the crucial role educators and parents play in protecting, intervening, and advocating for these vulnerable students. However, with evolving anti-LGBTQ+ policies, it's evident that school environments need to be safe, supportive, and inclusive for the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth.

    • Advocate for inclusive and accurate sex education curricula that represent diverse sexual and gender identities. Ensure that lessons are relevant and supportive, promoting self-acceptance and overall health for LGBTQ+ youth.
    • Push for clear school policies and staff training to prevent discrimination and bullying. Educators' support and informed guidance significantly contribute to a more inclusive and accepting environment for LGBTQ+ students.
    • Support the establishment of student-led support groups, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), to provide a safe and inclusive community for LGBTQ+ students.
    • Involve parents and the community in supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Collaboration with parents can significantly impact the emotional well-being of these students, fostering confidence and reducing negative experiences related to their LGBTQ+ identity.


Becoming an ally for LGBTQ+ students is a journey that requires dedication and understanding. Your positive actions, even small ones, matter. Education and collaboration among parents and educators can create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth. Below is an extensive list of resources to help guide you.


    1. How Educators Can Support Families with Gender Diverse and Sexual Minority Youth: Promoting Resiliency for Gender Diverse and Sexual Minority Students in Schools
    2. Resources to Support LGBTQIA+ Youth
    3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: LGBTQ+ Youth Resources
    4. American Psychological Association: LGBT Youth Resources
    5. Welcoming Schools: Resources for Gender and LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools
    6. Teaching Tolerance Best Practices Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate: A Teaching Tolerance Guide for School Leaders
    7. GLSEN GSA Resources: Starting a GSA at Your School
    8. The American Civil Liberties Union: Tips on Starting a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliances)

By Olivia Oropeza, Intern, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida


American Civil Liberties Union. (2022). Legislation affecting LGBTQ rights across the country.

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Haley, S. G., Tordoff, D. M., Kantor, A. Z., Crouch, J. M., & Ahrens, K. R. (2019). Sex education for transgender and non-binary youth: Previous experiences and recommended content. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16(11), 1834–1848.

Johns, M. M., Liddon, N., Jayne, P. E., Beltran, O., Steiner, R. J., & Morris, E. (2018). Systematic mapping of relationship-level protective factors and sexual health outcomes among sexual minority youth: The role of peers, parents, partners, and providers. LGBT Health, 5(1), 6–32.

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Kroeger, J., & Regula, L. (2017). Queer decisions in early childhood teacher education: teachers as advocates for gender non-conforming and sexual minority young children and families. International Critical Childhood Policy Studies, 6(1), 106–121.

Madireddy, S., & Madireddy, S. (2022). Supportive model for the improvement of Mental Health and prevention of suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 27(1), 85–101.

Mills-Koonce, W. R., Rehder, P. D., & McCurdy, A. L. (2018). The significance of parenting and parent-child relationships for sexual and Gender Minority Adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 28(3), 637–649.

Oropeza, O., & Harris, V. W. (2023). Protective Factors for Sexual and Gender Minoritized Youth. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal10(3), 89–104.

Pampati, S., Johns, M. M., Szucs, L. E., Bishop, M. D., Mallory, A. B., Barrios, L. C., & Russell, S. T. (2021). Sexual and gender minority youth and sexual health education: A systematic mapping review of the literature. Journal of Adolescent Health, 68(6), 1040–1052.

Philbin, M. M., Wurtz, H. M., McCrimmon, T., Kelly, E., Homan, P., & Guta, A. (2023). How social policies shape the health and well-being of sexual- and gender-minority youth: Pathways of influence, social side effects and implications for life course trajectories. Social Science & Medicine, 317, 115624.

Szalacha, L. A. (2003). Safer sexual diversity climates: Lessons learned from an evaluation of Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for gay and lesbian students. American Journal of Education, 110(1), 58–88.

Weinberg, J. R., & McGrory Cooper, J. (2023). Examining the mental health needs of sexual and gender minority youth to articulate a multitiered system of supports for Schools. Psychology in the Schools, 60(9), 3612–3632.

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