When you become a parent, you know to expect the unexpected. But for many Christian parents, nothing can prepare them to hear that their beloved child is gay or transgender. How could this be? What will the church say? What will your friends say? What does the future hold? You can’t even get your head around this.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Many parents do need their own supports to help them understand and cope with their own difficult emotions and concerns during a child’s “coming out.” You are not alone. Even if you are having trouble understanding your child’s identity or feelings, not withdrawing from your role as a loving parent is probably one of the most important ways to help a child continue to feel a sense of being cared for and accepted. Feeling loved has been shown to be critical to overall health and development of all children regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Christians disagree on homosexuality and gender, but God does not ask you to reject or harm your child. DO NOT REJECT OR HARM YOUR CHILD, punish or discipline them by withdrawing from them or try to pressure them to be straight. That is entirely counterproductive and will do more harm than good. It may leave them more vulnerable to mental health issues, substance use, relationship problems, violence, even homelessness. If you can’t say anything else, say, “I love you.” Don’t start with lectures and advice. Listen to your child. Let them share about their journey when they are ready. Seek to understand and catch up with where they are. Pray and stay open to God working through this with them and with you.
All youth need a safe home and social support to mature and develop the skills needed to transition to adulthood. Among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other diverse identities (LGBTQ+) youth, having affirming families and friend, and an affirming church, is associated with improved mental health and better child welfare outcomes.
Find resources in this section intended to help families support their LGBTQ+ youth; understand what to expect; and learn how to talk about a number of issues that may be impacting their youth.
Q Christian Fellowship Resource for Parents
If you or parents/family members you know need support navigating the LGBTQIA+ identify of their child or family member, consider connecting with the programs and resources provided by Q Christian at qchristian.org/parents. Q Christian offers a Wednesday drop-in group for parents that may be of particular interest.
Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBT Teens
Provides parents with responses and information about common phrases that teenagers use when they are exploring their sexual orientation.
Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth (PDF – 10,704 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015)
Presents research, clinical expertise, and expert consensus on therapeutic practices related to children’s and adolescent’s sexual orientation and gender identity, and makes the case for eliminating the use of conversion therapy among this population.
The Family Acceptance Project
San Francisco State University
Works to decrease major health and related risks, such as suicide, substance abuse, HIV, and homelessness, for LGBTQ+ youth in the context of their families. The initiative uses a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially, and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBTQ+ children.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Explores some of the health issues and inequities affecting LGBTQ+ communities. This website offers resources for LGBTQ+ youth and adults as well as health care providers, public health professionals, and public health students.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Supports LGBTQ+ people, their families, friends, and allies locally and nationally by providing PFLAG chapter helplines, support group meetings, advocacy, and resources. PFLAG’s resources for families and communities on sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ issues include Coming Out, Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families, and Friends of People who are Transgender and Gender Expansive.(PDF – 946 KB), and Be Not Afraid: Help Is on the Way! Straight for Equality in Faith Communities.(PDF – 2,139 KB).
Tips for Parents of LGBTQ Youth
Sanders & Lamont Fields
Johns Hopkins Medical
Explains clear directions for parents seeking to support their LGBTQ+ youth, including learning information about various sexual identities, engaging youth in conversation, and staying involved with school.
Tips for Raising an LGBTQ+ Foster or Adopted Child
Creating a Family (2019)
Provides concise tips to raising a child who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Advocacy and Support Organizations for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Communities
Child Welfare Information Gateway
National organizations that have made it their mission to support, represent, and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) groups that share a focus on child and youth welfare issues.
Family Support: Resources for Families of Transgender and Gender Diverse Children
Movement Advancement Project
Explains the importance of family acceptance in supporting transgender youth’s mental health. This page also provides research and practical tips for supporting gender diverse children and youth.
Gender-Diverse and Transgender Children
Defines terms and provides recommendations for parenting gender-diverse children and youth, including how to respond to identity disclosures and recognizing signs of mental health challenges.
Gender Health Services: Resources for Parents and Families
University of Rochester, University Counseling Center
Provides websites and books designed to help parents become advocates for their transgender children and youth.
Our Trans Loved Ones (PDF – 961 KB)
Highlights a resource that shares information, first-person stories, and advice for individuals who have a loved one who identifies as transgender or gender expansive.
Helps connect the parents of transgender youth to support groups and information to build their capacity to care for their children.
Video Resources / Parents and Families
LGBTQIA+ members and former members of the CPC share their stories.
|WCP Stories: Allison & Elicia
|WCP Stories: Michael
|WCP Stories: Mandy and Jamie
|WCP Stories: Christi
|WCP Stories: Obed
|WCP Stories: Michael L
Our Stories Project
LGBTQIA+ stories in writing
These stories of LGBTQ+ Cumberland Presbyterians are an expression of our commitment to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a commitment to truth and to our faith and reflect both vulnerability and courage.. They are a step towards deeper connection and greater unity as we seek to break down any walls that may exist between us.