Tips on Communicating with Your “Newly-Out” LGBTQ Student
Many students take their first steps in the coming out process in college. Loved ones often have questions about how to best navigate this process. Here are some suggestions:
If your student “comes out” to you as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, or questioning their sexuality, congratulations! This is a huge step, and most likely means that your student trusts you enough to invite you into their world. This time can be a confusing one, for all involved, so it helps to slow down, make time for conversation, and if you haven’t already—let your student know that you are here to listen.
This time can be marked by newness and growth. Your student’s initial “coming out” is likely just the beginning of a journey for the entire family. This journey can be often times beautiful and enriching, while also sometimes difficult.
During this initial time, it is often helpful for loved ones to explore community resources, such as PFLAG, which stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. This organization often holds weekly meetings to offer support for parents and loved ones who are also “coming out” as parents of a LGBTQ-identified child. Visit the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays website, call their national number at (202) 467-8180, or email PFLAG for additional information.
Be Kind to Yourself:
Often times loved ones feel initially overwhelmed or have multiple questions themselves. Remind yourself that your student has most likely had a good amount of time to think about their “coming out.” Now that they have shared this experience with you, your own path as parents and loved ones in this way is just beginning. It’s OK to have questions and sometimes confusing or competing emotions all at once. Take a deep breath, trust in your ability to continue parenting with love and respect, and look at this as an opportunity to grow closer to your student.
Remember that the Counseling and Personal Development Center is available to support your student through this process.
The Counseling and Personal Development Center staff values the diversity of the Pace University community. We strive to create a safe, affirming, respectful, accepting and welcoming environment that embraces all forms of diversity: age, race, ethnicity, language, national origin, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, physical and mental ability, and socioeconomic status. In this climate, we hope that students will feel comfortable to freely explore their unique identities, personal experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and values. In turn, we hope to help students with the issues that bring them in and encourage their intellectual, emotional, and social development. We also see our mission as extending beyond the walls of our offices in order to promote and support a growth producing environment in the Pace community as a whole. Our goal and commitment is for all of our work to reflect the acceptance of every person.