Helping your LGBTQ Child

LGBTQ teens have a number of additional issues to navigate in the maze of adolescence. It is important for parents, and teens, to remember that it isn’t only a matter of deciding if, or when, to come out. Coming out is a process, and one that can take several years to complete. While it may appear there is a generally more tolerant atmosphere in our society, LGBTQ teens often feel extremely isolated and marginalized, are frequent targets of bullying, have higher rates of depression and anxiety, land owered GPA’s due to stress bullying, and/or school avoidance. Families may struggle with this new information, and may behave in ways that alienate their child or make this transition very painful.

Oftentimes, parents will report they had "a feeling” their child may be gay, or questioning, as far back as early elementary school, while others may be very surprised. Families can often benefit from therapy in order to sort out their own feelings to be better prepared if their child decides to come out to them, and to feel better equipped to support their child along their journey. Parents often have questions about their own role and worries, guilt or embarrassment that would benefit from being worked through in therapy.

It has been my experience that parents truly want to help their child, but are often overwhelmed with this new information, and do not have the tools to be as effective as they would like to be. Also, parents may be grieving the emotional loss of their own projected ideas, hopes and dreams for what they envisioned their child’s life would look like. They often need help developing a new picture, but one that is also positive and successful.

It is important to remember that your teen’s sexual orientation is only a part of who they are, but when your teen  feels like they are the only one in their school, family, or community, the impact of feeling "different" can be significant.

Here is a sampling of the issues LGBTQ teens often face, and where psychotherapy, either for a youth and/or their family, may be beneficial:


1. Is it okay to be questioning my sexual orientation?

2. Dealing with myths, stereotypes, and societal judgments

3. Contending with religious and/or cultural beliefs

4. Homophobia in the hallways- dealing with harassment at school

5. Responding to slurs and homophobia at school, in the community, and even at home

6. Deciding whether, when, and how to come out

7. Finding support at school, among peers, and in the community

8. Making safe social connections

9. Building a community

10. Dating violence or emotional abuse

11. Dating issues

12. Staying healthy

13. Sexuality

14. Preparing for college

15. Managing stress, anxiety and/or depression

16. Addressing family dynamics

17. Fears of limitations in career, parenting, etc;


If you or your teen are facing these concerns, please feel welcome to call for an appointment. Please bear in mind that this foregoing is for general information only, and does not constitute professional advice. Dr. Sanders can be reached at (703) 919-1959.


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