Research from the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology shows that LGBTQIA+ youth (sometimes called LGBT youth) whose parents provide support have higher levels of self-esteem and are less depressed than those whose parents don’t support them. The research also linked family acceptance of their LGBTQIA+ status to lower instances of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
Providing support for LGBTQIA+ kids and young adults is crucial. It can be as easy as listening and asking what you can do to help them. If a child or young person questions their gender identity — the sense of being male, female, both, or neither — ask what name and pronouns they prefer, and use them.
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LGBTQIA+ Health Care
Parents may offer medical help to support their children, depending on the situation. Most health care for LGBTQIA+ youth is the same as health care for any other young person. There are a few notable exceptions.
Mental health: LGBTQIA+ children often feel stress, depression, and anxiety as they encounter prejudice, stigma, or other negative reactions as a result of their status. A counselor or therapist can help them work through some of these mental health concerns. Talking to a therapist about any confusing feelings they have about their gender or sexual identity also can be helpful.
Transgender and nonbinary health: Youth who are questioning their gender identity or experiencing gender dysphoria (the significant distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and the sex assigned at birth) may find help through counseling, asking medical questions, and receiving medical interventions such as affirming hormone treatment.
Resources and Support for LGBTQIA+ Youth
Fortunately, there are many resources to help LGBTQIA+ youth and their loved ones:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics provides helpful information for parents of LGBTQIA+ children
- Welcoming Schools offers information to support LGBTQIA+ youth through school inclusiveness training and resource ideas
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares resources on mental health issues for the LGBTQIA+ community
- UPMC offers a guide to helpful resources, including information and programs
If a young person or parent in the Pittsburgh area needs support for LGBTQIA+ concerns, contact the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This multidisciplinary health clinic can address LGBTQIA+ mental and physical health concerns. Using an informed consent model, the center provides guidance, counseling, and appropriate medical and mental health treatment for adolescents, young adults, and parents. Please call 412-692-6677 and choose option 4 during business hours. Then ask for “gender care” or “LGBTQIA+ care.”
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.