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Listening Beyond Words: The First Step to Supporting Your LGBTQ+ Child

LGBTQ+ Discrimination
Imagine this: your child comes home from school one day, the sparkle dimmed in their eyes, weighed down by an invisible burden. They sit you down, voice trembling, and share that they experienced discrimination because of their LGBTQ+ identity. In that heart-wrenching moment, a storm of emotions begins to brew within you. Anger, sadness, and a deep, protective instinct to make this right. But where to start? What can a parent do to empower and support their child without overwhelming them?

First and foremost, it is crucial to listen. Truly listen. Your child needs to know that their voice matters and that you are their safest place. Assure them that you believe them and appreciate their courage in sharing this painful experience. This initial step is more powerful than any immediate action you could take. It establishes trust and reminds your child that home is a sanctuary where they are respected and valued, just as they are.

Once you’ve listened, it’s time to take action. Start by gathering the details. Understanding the context of the discrimination—whether it occurred at school, a community setting, or elsewhere—is essential. With your child’s comfort in mind, discuss the specifics. Who was involved? What was said or done? When and where did it happen? These pieces of the puzzle will guide your next steps and ensure you address the issue comprehensively.

Next, educate yourself on your child’s rights. Schools and workplaces have policies to protect against discrimination, and knowing these can be empowering. Reach out to teachers, administrators, or the Human Resources department. Express your concerns clearly and ask about the steps that will be taken to address and prevent such incidents. You aren’t just advocating for your child; you’re helping build a safer environment for others who might face the same challenges.

Remember, it’s about creating an ongoing conversation, not just a one-time intervention. Equip your child with tools and coping strategies. Encourage them to join supportive communities where they can connect with peers who understand their journey. These connections can bolster their confidence and resilience.

Also, consider seeking professional support. Counselors, therapists, or support groups specializing in LGBTQ+ issues can offer invaluable guidance and emotional support both to you and your child. There is strength in turning to those equipped with the expertise to navigate these matters.

Lastly, celebrate your child. Affirm their identity, remind them of their worth, and recognize their bravery. Your unwavering support is a cornerstone of their strength. By standing beside them through these trials, you’re teaching them the vital lesson that they are never alone in facing life’s challenges.

In the end, addressing discrimination is a journey of resilience and solidarity. By actively listening, advocating, educating, and supporting, you are not only helping your child cope with the immediate hurt but also equipping them with the tools to stand tall and proud in the face of adversity. In this nurturing environment, your child will flourish, knowing they are cherished and never fighting their battles alone.


Dr. Muhammad Zeshan Headshot Dr. Muhammad Zeshan My name is Muhammad Zeshan, MD, and I am a Harvard trained infant, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at Inside Out, a private practice based in Princeton, New Jersey. I am currently working as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School-Newark, New Jersey. Through Inside Out CURE, my focus is to help individuals become more Compassionate, Understanding, and aware of their inner strength and vulnerabilities, while developing Resilience and Empathy. I offer a variety of mental health care services to all age groups (infancy through adulthood) by applying principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, positive psychology, family therapy, parent-child intervention therapy, pharmacology, and neuroscience.

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