3 Ways to Foster the Wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ Kids and Teens
September 28, 2023
Ensuring a healthier and more inclusive future for LGBTQIA+ children and teens is of utmost importance to health systems in our community, especially Renown. Supporting the physical and mental health of youth in this community is key to those efforts, especially as they face unique challenges in terms of identity acceptance and social integration.
Dr. Caroline Barangan, Adolescent Medicine Physician with Renown Children’s Pediatric Specialty Care, discusses what you as a parent, caregiver, friend or support system can do to be a safe space for children and teens who identify as LGBTQIA+.
1. Create a Safe Space at Home
The most important action you can take for your LGBTQIA+ teen or child is to accept and support them for who they are, regardless of how they identify. “Being a teenager is already difficult enough, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community, which puts them at risk of being stigmatized, rejected and targets for bullying,” said Dr. Barangan.
Your supportive words and actions can make a huge difference as a profound expression of love and understanding. Being patient and willing to learn are the foundations to a healthy and loving relationship with your LGBTQIA+ teen or child.
2. Encourage Regular Check-Ups with a Primary Care Provider (PCP)
Establishing your child or teen with a PCP is not only important when an illness occurs but also for annual preventative visits and regular check-ups. “A primary care provider can screen for high-risk behaviors that would put a patient’s health in jeopardy, such as sexual experience, substance use, suicidality and self-harm,” said. Dr Barangan. “These screenings are an opportunity to provide the education and support these kids and teens need to stay healthy.”
One of the main concerns LGBTQIA+ youth often have is that they will experience judgment from their provider, or the PCP will disclose sensitive information, including their sexuality or gender identity to their parents, when they are not ready to do so. Dr. Barangan emphatically reminds us that this legally cannot happen. “If a patient asks me to keep something confidential, unless they disclose that they have plans to harm themselves or others, I am legally not allowed to share that information with anyone without their permission,” said Dr. Barangan.
3. Locate Local Resources
Northern Nevada is home to a variety of resources for the LGBTQIA+ community at large, including youth members of this community. "Finding resources to help them develop in a positive way and provide them with the information they need, whether it be in school, the household, the community or through a medical or mental health provider, is incredibly important,” said Dr. Barangan.
Below is a list of local LGBTQIA+ community resources open to you and your children:
- Our Center
- LGBTQIA+ Health Services at Northern Nevada HOPES
- Northern Nevada Pride Festival & Community Parade (happens every July in Reno)
- Sassabration (happens every September in Carson City)
- Lake Tahoe Pride (events and resources shared on Facebook)