For parents of LGBTQIA+ youth
Being the parent of an LGBTQIA+ youth can bring a unique sets of questions and challenges. The good news is, you're not alone in this journey. The Rainbow Coffee House Parent Peer Group is a dedicated weekly meeting space for you to ask questions, learn new things and to receive and give support to one another.
Currently, there is no universally accepted acronym for the community or communities of youth who are not heterosexual and express their gender in diverse ways. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth each represent distinct populations with particular and sometimes unique experiences.1 This topic page uses “LGBT” as an umbrella term, a commonly used acronym for talking about nonheterosexual and gender-variant youth, but it is important to keep in mind that other sexual (e.g., “pansexual) and gender (e.g., “pangender”) identities are not fully captured with the LGBT acronym. Also, it is important to remember that sexual orientation and gender identity intersect with cultural and other aspects of a young person’s identity, such as faith/spirituality and race and ethnicity, and can also change over time.
Below are some of the key concepts and terms related to one’s sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression. Download a PDF (1 page) of these key terms and concepts.
Genetic and anatomical characteristics with which youth are born, typically labeled “male” or “female.” Some youth are born with a reproductive/sexual anatomy that does not fit typical definitions of “male” or “female.” This is sometimes referred to as “intersex.” Many medical and some advocacy communities now use the term “disorder” (or sometimes, “differences”) of sex development (DSD).2
1 Institute of Medicine, 2011
2 Malouf & Baratz, 2012; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012
4 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012
5 Lev & Alie, 2012
6 Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
7 Institute of Medicine, 2011
8 Institute of Medicine, 2011
9 Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
10 Bearse, 2012; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
11 Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014