For LGBTQIA+ people across the globe, “coming out” doesn’t just happen once. Coming out, or the process of expressing and acknowledging sexual orientation or gender identity, is often something queer people need to do many times throughout their lives to different people.
The importance of supporting LGBTQIA+ youth
One of the most formative coming out experiences is often opening up to parents and family in childhood or young adulthood. These moments are critical in the long term—research shows that family acceptance or rejection in early years plays a crucial role for LGBTQIA+ children’s well-being and development. Family support of LGBTQIA+ kids is associated with greater self-esteem, general health, less depression, less substance abuse, and less suicidal ideation.
No matter where they are in the world, parents can start thinking about communication with their young children by identifying family values that are inclusive of LGBTQIA+ identities. Jiani Lim, a Maven parent coach, supports emotional development, emotional regulation, and communication skills in young children. Lim explains: “I would encourage parents to first identify a set of family values around communication.” Lim listed values like:
- Prioritizing listening
- Being open to different perspectives
- Expressing thoughts and feelings respectfully
“By using these values as a guide and consistently embodying them, parents can create an environment that is trusting and understanding for a young LGBTQIA+ child during their developmental years,” says Lim.
The landscape of LGBTQIA+ rights around the world is constantly changing—which can have a huge impact on LGBTQIA+ children as they grow up. There are sixty-four countries that have laws that criminalize homosexuality, fourteen countries that criminalize citizens for being transgender, and forty-two countries that outlaw same-sex adoption. Let’s take a look at the state of global LGBTQIA+ rights, specifically in Japan, Germany, Brazil, and the U.K.
In Japan, attitudes toward the LGBTIQA+ community are gradually evolving, but social stigma and discrimination still exists. Japan doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, though the Tokyo government and eight other municipalities allow same-sex partnerships. This does not grant citizens the same rights and benefits as marriage.
The transgender community in Japan faces many obstacles. It’s possible to legally change gender markers on official documents, but the process requires sterilization, which was upheld by Japan’s Supreme Court in 2019. LGBTQIA+ youth in Japan may face bullying, social exclusion, and discrimination. A 2022 study found that half of LGBTQIA+ teens in Japan have considered suicide. Among the respondents, 92% of the teens felt they couldn’t ask their parents for advice, and 94% felt like they couldn’t talk to their educators. Despite these troubling trends, attitudes in Japan are evolving: 91% of Japanese people aged 18-29 support same-sex marriage.
In recent years, Germany has become known as a beacon of acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community. The journey towards equality for the LGBTQIA+ community has been marked by progressive policies legalizing same-sex marriage, procedures that make it easier for transgender people to legally change their name and gender, and growing social acceptance for diverse lifestyles.
Germany has comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and a robust infrastructure of support and advocacy services specifically tailored to LGBTQIA+ youth to ensure they have a strong network. Schools are also increasingly integrating LGBTQIA+ topics into curricula, though these efforts are more concentrated in urban areas like Berlin and Cologne. While there is still homophobia and transphobia in Germany, living in Germany as an LGBTQIA+ youth or ally offers legal protections and inclusive policies that are uncommon in many places today.
The LGBTQIA+ experience in Brazil is marked by both progress and extreme challenges. Brazil has taken large strides in advancing legal protections for LGBTQIA+ people. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013, and LGBTQIA+ individuals have the right to legally change their gender without psychiatric evaluation or surgery. Unfortunately, there are still challenges to LGBTQIA+ acceptance in Brazil. The Human Rights Watch reports that there are efforts to ban gender and sexuality education in Brazil and restrict accession to comprehensive sex education. And while transphobia has been a crime in Brazil since 2019, more trans people are killed in Brazil than any other country in the world. However, many LGBTQIA+ people are running for office to defend themselves and their communities in politics. At least three times as many candidates ran during the 2020 municipal elections as in 2016 and a record number of LGBTQIA+ candidates were elected during 2020.
The United Kingdom
While there is a vibrant queer culture in the U.K., the island country recently dropped down the annual ranking of LGBTQIA+ rights across Europe for the third year in a row. The U.K. government has failed to ban conversion practices on transgender people and does not have a transparent framework for legal gender recognition. However, most of the U.K. does have tolerant attitudes towards LGBTIQA+ people, with generally high levels of social acceptance, especially among the younger generations.
How to create an inclusive environment for children
Amidst the constantly changing landscapes of different countries and cultures, it is essential for parents to create a safe haven for support for their children. As a parent, your responsibility is not to change society, but rather to champion the authenticity and happiness of your children. Here are three ways parents can support their young children develop a healthy sense of identity and well being:
- Encourage children to express themselves authentically
- Hold regular family meetings to discuss important topics around family values and diversity and inclusivity
- Build a community around you that promotes inclusivity and diversity by joining parent groups, community events, and participating in volunteer work with your child
How Maven supports parents around the world
Maven provides comprehensive support for parents with children from zero to eighteen. “In a family with an LGBTQIA+ child or families that would like to embrace and be part of that community, it’s important to recognize and celebrate diversity in our community and in ourselves,” explains Lim. With providers from parent coaches to mental health specialists, Maven is committed to helping you encourage your child to develop a positive sense of self. Check to see if you have free access to Maven today and join now.
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