Resources for the LGBT Youth in a New Community
Moving to a new city is always difficult, especially for younger people. Teens may find their entire non-family support system torn away. While it’s far easier to keep in touch with old friends today thanks to video chats and cell phones, it's not the same as spending time with someone in person. On top of the feeling of loss that comes from moving away, there’s getting settled into a new house and a new city. The whole house is likely to be in disarray for several weeks, which is always frustrating.
Then there’s learning the neighborhood and figuring out how to get around. Some teens may be driving, in which case they may end up lost or find that people drive much differently than they’re used to. Even after coming to terms with the new city, teens face a very difficult task: making new friends.
For a LGBT teen, the last item on the list is especially terrifying. There are many different fears that go through an LGBT teen’s head. Are people open and accepting of different sexualities? Even if the general attitude is welcoming, what about individuals? Is it safe to come out to other students at school? To teachers? To neighbors?
Fortunately, there are often resources to be found that can help ease some of these fears. By doing some research into their new home, LGBT teens can create a new support system and make some new friends.
- It Gets Better Project – A group dedicated to helping LGBT people.
- LGBT Youth – The CDC offers insight into what a LGBT teen may go through.
- Growing up LGBT in America – Resources from the Human Rights Campaign.
- The Trevor Project – A crisis intervention service for LGBT people.
- Bullying and LGBT Youth – How to help.
Resources and Support Groups
The first resource LGBT teens can turn to is, of course, the internet. Doing an online search for LGBT teen + city may provide some insight into how people in that area generally feel about gays and lesbians. There are also a number of online support groups where teens can ask questions and talk to others. This may be a good way to make new friends in the area, too, although all teens regardless of sexual orientation need to be careful when meeting someone online. They should always do so in a very public place, and others should know where they are.
Searching online may also reveal if the area has a LGBT community center. These centers often have activities and support meetings for teens, and there’s usually a counselor or volunteer available to talk to. A community center may also have literature and other resources on topics such as how to come out to relatives and how to deal with bullying.
A school gay-straight alliance is another place to find acceptance, help, and support. Many schools have these groups, and they’re a great place for teens to meet other LGBT people. However, attending one of these meetings may be scary for someone in a new school. It doesn’t necessarily mean coming out since there are straight teens in these groups, but it’s a step in that direction. It’s also one of the easiest ways to make new friends.
- LGBT Community Centers – A resource for finding local centers.
- GSA Network – The gay-straight alliance network.
- Resources for LGBT Youth – Information from the Advocates for Youth.
- Gay Teen Resources – Different resources on coming out, understanding sexuality, etc.
- LGBT Youth Organizations – A list of different national and local groups.
How Parents Can Help Ease the Transition
Parents of LGBT teens can do a lot to help ease the transition of moving away from home. One place to start is with their realtor. There are a number of LGBT friendly real estate companies that can assist parents with learning about the family’s new neighborhood and how LGBT teens fit into it. Realtors may be able to provide information about the LGBT community center, school groups, LGBT-friendly churches, and other organizations where teens can meet other young gays and lesbians. They might also be able to provide information about local and state laws that affect LGBT people.
Parents may also want to look into joining a local PFLAG group. This group is focused on bringing together the parents, friends, and other family members of lesbians and gays. While they are often associated with schools and seek to address issues like bullying, they aren’t limited to schools or even to family members of teens. Their website also has a good amount of information on it and is a great resource for parents whose teen has just come out.
Of course, one of the biggest things parents of LGBT teens can do is be aware of how their child is feeling. Moving to a new city is a very disruptive event in their lives. Because parents are also dealing with this major change, they may be quick to dismiss how their children are feeling. They need to be sure to respectively listen to what their teen is saying and provide support for him or her. This is especially true when that teen is LGBT.
- PFLAG National – The official website of PFLAG.
- 10 Tips for Parents of LGBT Children – Some are useful for families who have moved.
- Reading Material for LGBT Parents – Resources from the True Colors project.
- Parent Groups – A listing of different groups for parents of LGBT teens.
- Parenting LGBT Teens – Articles and resources for parents.
While moving house can be stressful for an LGBT teen, there are many different resources available to help them settle into their new home. Teens should be encouraged to look into these resources. Going online can help them get an idea of what the area has to offer LGBT people. They can also join a gay-straight alliance or attend different events at the local LGBT community center.
Parents, likewise, may need to find resources and support groups, especially if their teen has just come out. Joining a local PFLAG chapter is a great place to start. Talking to a gay friendly real estate agent is another way of learning about the neighborhood and how it may treat their gay teen. Parents should also encourage their teen to talk to them about the move and any difficulties they’re having in making new friends and in finding a new LGBT support system. Honestly communicating can help make the move less stressful for everyone involved.