Connecticut Children’s DEI Team

Social acceptance of the LGBTQIA community has progressed in recent years, but those old stereotypes and misconceptions can still greatly affect the mental health of members of this community.

So how can we as their loved ones make them feel comfortable during times of transition or heard during times of hardship? Listening and having an open discussion can be the first steps in helping your loved one…

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Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting LGBTQIA Loved Ones

If you’re unaccustomed to having discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity, here are some suggestions on how to go about these conversations in a way that supports your loved one.

  • Do listen to them. “Coming out” can be one of the scariest moments for anyone who is part of the LGBTQIA community, so it’s best to listen to them and be open-minded in order to relieve their stress. Be self-aware of your past biases, but then take the time to listen to your loved one’s perspective. If they feel heard, then they’ll start to feel accepted.
  • Don’t invalidate their feelings. It’s alright to ask them questions, especially when they first come out, but it’s better to word them in a way to validate their feelings. For instance, phrases like, “Are you sure?” or, “Is this just a phase?” will make them feel like you’re not taking them seriously or trying to make them doubt themselves. Questions like “What can I do to support you?” or “I’d love to learn more, can you explain how you’re feeling to me?” can make your loved one feel validated.
  • Do respect and understand their identity. Ignoring or refusing to acknowledge your loved one’s identity can cause them immense grief and frustration. Therefore, when they ask you to call them by a different name or to use their pronouns, it’s important to take their requests seriously. You may make mistakes from time to time, but rather than make a grand apology or not say anything, merely correct yourself soon after. Your loved ones just want to see that you’re trying and that you do respect their identity.
  • Don’t let them be isolated. Your LGBTQIA loved ones may withdraw from society if they feel unaccepted. Isolation is also a key sign of anxiety or depression. Encourage them to be themselves and to surround themselves with the friends and family who love them.
  • Do give them access to mental health resources. If they are truly struggling, connect them with the right counselors or programs to get them the help they need. (Related: How to Check on Your Child’s Mental Health

LGBTQIA Conversation Starters

Here are some simple conversation starters to show your support and to help your loved one on their mental health journey. These phrases, even variations of them, can help them feel understood.

  • “How’ve you been feeling lately?”
  • “I’d love to spend more time together. I want to get to know you better.”
  • “I want to learn more about your experience if you’re comfortable sharing. I want to be someone you can talk to.”
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve been more withdrawn/upset lately. Is there anything I can do to help?
  • “I’m concerned you might be having a difficult time. Would you like me to connect you to a counselor?”
  • Overall, supporting your LGBTQIA loved one can merely be a few heartfelt conversations, using their pronouns, or even expressing the same love and affection you had for them before they came out. However, if they start to struggle beyond your help, it is best to connect them with mental health programs to help them in the long run.

Resources for LGBTQIA Support

Here are some resources providing more information on helping your LGBTQIA loved one and how to get them access to the best mental health care.

Stories of Pride: The Power of Us | The Trevor Project

LGBTQ+ Youth – Human Rights Campaign (

LGBTI people | OHCHR

LGBTQ+ Rights | The Fund for Global Human Rights

5 Ways to Support Your LGBTQ Loved One’s Mental Health – Constellation Behavioral Health