Parents & Families Have a Critical Impact on Their LGBTQ Children’s Health Risks & Well-Being

Families Matter!

When the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) launched the first research on LGBTQ youth and families 20 years ago, they found that families have a compelling impact on their LGBTQ children’s health and well-being.


FAP’s research found that families are motivated by trying to help their LGBTQ children have a good life, be respected by others and keep their families together. They also found that parents and caregivers didn’t realize the impact their reactions had on their LGBTQ children’s self-worth, hopefulness, risk behaviors, health and self-care. At that time, researchers had not studied the experiences of LGBTQ youth and families, and perceptions were widespread that families were unable to learn to support their LGBTQ children.

FAP’s research identified and studied more than 100 specific behaviors that parents and caregivers use to respond to their children’s LGBTQ identity. Half of these behaviors are rejecting and half support or affirm their LGBTQ children. FAP’s research found that:

Family behaviors that try to change, prevent, deny or minimize their child’s LGBTQ identity have a negative impact on their child’s health and well-being and contribute to depression, suicide, illegal drug use and other serious health risks. This includes behaviors such as not letting their child learn about their LGBTQ identity or excluding them from family events and activities because of their identity.

FAP’s research found that family behaviors that support their child help promote self-esteem, overall health, stronger relationships and help to protect against suicidal behavior,  depression and substance abuse. This includes behaviors such as standing up for their child when others mistreat them because of their LGBTQ identity and requiring that other family members treat their child with respect – even when they believe that being gay or transgender is wrong.


Working with families from diverse ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds – including those who struggle with their child’s LGBTQ identity – FAP’s family support team found that parents and caregivers can learn to support their LGBTQ children when information and guidance are presented in ways that are culturally relevant for them. We hope this website will help parents learn about supporting their LGBTQ children and will provide access to urgently needed services and support for youth and families.

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