When a child comes out to a parent, it can be a difficult time for everyone involved. Parents may feel torn between their love for their child and their belief systems, and children may feel misunderstood and alone. To find ways to better support all families, The Fenway Institute is launching the Our Health Matters Engaging Parents Project, a new study that examines the varied experiences of parents of LGBT youth of color.
The goal of the Engaging Parents Project is to talk with parents about their feelings and experiences about parenting a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth of color. The Project team is interested in talking with parents who are at all stages of acceptance – those that are comfortable, as well as those who are struggling with their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“When parents are uncomfortable with their children being LGBT, or in unchartered territory, the whole family can end up feeling isolated and stressed.” said Kerith Conron, Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute. “We believe that if parents have more opportunities and resources for support, it will benefit parents, youth, and the whole family.”
“About 8% of Boston youth think of themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or are uncertain about their sexual orientation or gender identity, which means that there are many families out there who are struggling and also many families who are thriving,” Conron added. “We believe that there is something important to learn from all of these family experiences.”
Community outreach is a critical component of this project. Engaging Parents Project recently co-organized a community movie screening, which was a great success. On June 25, over 30 young adults, children, and parents gathered at Codman Square’s Black Box Theatre to view and discuss Amir Dixon’s film These Are Our Children Too. The film tells the stories of five LGBT youths of color as they navigate issues of identity, invisibility, and acceptance. The event was also co-organized by The Fenway Institute’s Stigma Subcommittee of Connect2Protect and was supported by ABCD, BAGLY, Boston Alliance for Community Health, Boston GLASS, Codman Square Health Center, Connected Boston, GLAD, HBGC, and PFLAG.
After the discussion, parents and youth were encouraged to share their thoughts. Some parents expressed fear for their children’s safety, as well as a desire to further educate themselves on what it means to be LGBT. Youth attendees stressed how important it is for parents to ask questions and listen to their children. As one youth in attendance said, “Even if you don’t understand, just love us.”
You may be eligible to participate in the Engaging Parents Project if you are the parent or guardian of a youth of color between the ages of 13 and 17 and your child identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or uncertain about their sexual orientation or gender. Eligible parents or guardians will be compensated $50 for a one hour confidential research interview. Interviews may be conducted in English or in Spanish.
We hope to reach a wide range of parents of 13-17-year-old LGBT youth of color for the project, but we need your help. Please help us spread the word about the Engaging Parents Project! Download our three recruitment flyers and hang them around your communities. Together, we can start important dialogues, support LGBT youth, and help their families to continue to grow and thrive.
For more information on the Engaging Parents Project, or to check your eligibility, please call or text 617.804.5436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Para espanol, llame o texto 857.400.9393.
Want to receive email updates about what’s happening at Fenway Health? Sign up here.