It is natural for children and young people to reflect on their identity as they develop and learn more about who they are.
It can take some time for them to figure out what feels right for them and their identity.
There are many ways in which parents, carers and other adults in the life of a child or young person can help them to feel secure and supported throughout.
Growing Up LGBTQ+
Many LGBTQ+ young people know that they identify in this way by the age of 12 – for trans people, this age can be younger again.
Growing up LGBTQ+ can present a number of challenges to young people. Many experience bullying, leading some to feel as though they would like to quit school.
Young people who are LGBTQ+ can also experience stress and mental health difficulties, including anxiety and depression.
For young people who identify as transgender / trans in particular, in can be difficult to know how to go about accessing information and support.
Support is Available
Ireland has become a more accepting place in recent years, with developments including the Yes vote for Marriage Equality and the Gender Recognition Act, however individuals’ experiences can vary.
Children and young people’s life experience may be different to our own – and it may perhaps be different to what we may have expected for them. This does not mean that they cannot live happy and fulfilled lives.
The most important thing a parent or carer can do is keep the lines of communication open with their child or young person.
You don’t need to understand everything in order to show that you are here for them and that you accept and respect their individuality.
There are lots of resources available to assist in learning more and supporting LGBTQ+ children or young people.
Childline is always here to listen to every child and young person in Ireland, 24 hours a day, every day. See Childline.ie.
BeLonG To provides support for LGBTQ+ young people aged 13 – 24 and their parents, carers, teachers, youth workers, etc. The organisation runs a number of youth groups for LGBTI+ young people across Ireland. See BelongTo.org.
The Transgender Equality Network of Ireland provides support for transgender and non-binary people of all ages, as well as their family members and others. See Teni.ie.
If you would like to start a conversation with a child or young person in your life about sexuality or gender identity, you may find the following videos helpful in starting the conversation.
Read more about LGBTQ+ / LGBTI+ terminology here.