Whether you’re an adult or parent looking for ways you can support your teen or other teens in the LGBTQ+ community, or you’re a teen yourself wondering how you can support your peers who identify as LGBTQ+, here are some things you can do to be a better ally or advocate for teens in the LGBTQ+ community.

Ellipsis believes that all kids and teenagers deserve to feel loved, valued and accepted. The lack of those supports can take a toll on kids’ and teens’ mental health and doesn’t strengthen the next generation of community leaders.

Consider the fact that 67% of Iowa youth identifying as LGBTQ+ report experiencing persistent sadness or hopelessness almost every day for two weeks or more in a row in 2021, which stopped them from doing some usual activities. That compares to the 24% of youth who identify as straight who responded similarly about experiencing persistent sadness or hopelessness, according to the Iowa Youth Survey. Of serious concern: 55% of LGBTQ+ youth said they’d had suicidal thoughts in 2021.

These advocacy tactics make a difference for our youth. If you or someone you love wants or needs more help, Ellipsis has a complete continuum of care to offer support. Start the conversation here.  

  1. Always use someone’s preferred name and pronouns. If you make a mistake, correct yourself. This is sometimes a difficult change to make, especially if you’ve known someone for a long time, but making the effort to address people in the way that corresponds with their identity helps them feel seen and validates the trust they had in you to share their identity in the first place. Don’t know their preferred pronouns? Simply ask!
  2. When someone shares a part of their identity with you, such as their sexual orientation or gender identity, always approach the situation with open-mindedness and acceptance, even if something is unfamiliar to you or you have questions. Above all, never question someone’s identity. Thank them for their trust in you, and then you can ask them questions about it only if they are comfortable with educating you; otherwise, do your own research. Also remember that just become someone shares their sexual orientation or gender identity with you, it does not mean they are “out” to everyone.
  3. Be aware that as someone enters the teenage years, they might already have a good sense of their identity and may choose to start sharing it with others, or they may be starting to question parts of their identity as they have more experiences and learn more about the world and themselves. They might now know the words to express something they’ve felt their whole life, such as feeling like they were born in the wrong body.
  4. Watch for any gendered language you may use in daily life and don’t make assumptions about someone’s identity. For example, when you want to know about a teen’s dating life, ask them if there’s anyone special in this life instead of whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  5. Understand the risks LGBTQ+ teens may face, such as homelessness due to unaccepting family, bullying and an increased risk of depression and suicide. In fact, youth who identify in the LGBTQ+ community are 120% more likely to become homeless than other youth.
  6. Explore online trainings and other resources on how to be a better advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. Find more information through the following LGBTQ+ resources.
  7. Remember that the ability to educate others and the responsibility to do so does not only apply to the LGBTQ+ community.