This June marks Pride Month which means more rainbow flags and equality stickers may show up in your newsfeeds and new vocabulary may come up in your conversations. You may feel awkward having these conversations, but they are absolutely essential.

There are concerning statistics on bullying and suicide rates for LGBTQ+ youth, which are alarming. However, there is also emerging research on protective factors for LGBTQ+ youth and things you can do to support the LGBTQ+ youth in your life. Protective factors include social support, LGBTQ+ role models, and advocating for inclusive policies. By being a supportive ally, you can protect LGBTQ+ youth and help save lives!

As a child and adolescent therapist and former gender and sexuality club sponsor, here are some of my favorite tips for interacting with the LGBTQ+ youth in your life:

Now that you’ve learned a few tips and some vocabulary, share what you’ve learned with friends, family and caring adults who want to be supportive allies for youth. Pride Month is more than a display of rainbows. It’s a great opportunity to create safe space for the young people in your life.

Meagan Butler, M.Ed., is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX, with 17 years of experience as an educator and mental health professional. She was named Austin ISD’s District-wide Counselor of the Year in 2015 and later supervised hundreds of school counselors as Counseling Coordinator. Meagan is currently a PhD student in School Improvement at Texas State, an Educational Consultant, and a Senior Therapist at Ensemble Therapy in Austin. She specializes in neuroscience-based interventions, trauma-informed practices, and support for LGBTQ+ children and youth. Meagan practices mindfulness every day. 

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