In association with Project Thrive, the Human Rights Campaign hosted a webinar on Thursday, January 21, to educate about current LGBTQ+ issues related to coming out. The host, Jean-Marie Navetta (PFLAG), reviewed terminology about coming out, inviting in, disclosure, and why the language is important when working with adolescents.

The term “coming out” can be defined for most people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer as the process of self-acceptance that continues throughout one’s life regarding their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and the sharing of the information with others. Whereas inviting in is the idea that sexuality and gender identity up to the individual to share if and when they want to. It reflects the choice that a person who is LGBTQ+ has regarding how and when they share information about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A few points to keep in mind regarding coming out:

  • There’s no one “right way” to come out/disclose
  • There is no “typical” age range for coming out
  • Information may be disclosed to everyone, only a few people, or only to the person who is LGBTQ+ themselves
  • Expectations associated with coming out are often culturally and generationally defined
  • There is no requirement that a person come out, but coming out has tremendous power
  • Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity

Data was shared about the positive impact that feeling supported in your coming out can have on people who are LGBTQ+.

  • LGBTQ+ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year
  • 78% of LGBTQ+ youth who are not out to their parents hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ+ people
  • 58% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that someone attempted to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 48% of LGBTQ+ youth out to their parents say that their families make them feel bad for being LGBTQ+

Recommendations for Parents, Caregivers, and Youth-Serving Professionals:

  • Lead with love, even if you don’t fully understand
  • Ask if and how you can help
  • Elevate LGBTQ+ stories and role models
  • Find supportive spaces
  • Educate yourself
  • Require others to treat your child with respect