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Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month in the LGBTQ+ Community 495 401 cj

Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month in the LGBTQ+ Community

Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month in the LGBTQ+ Community

April marks Autism Acceptance Month, dedicated to fostering ongoing support, empathy, and kindness for the autistic communities. Providing acceptance and affirmation is a significant component of Kaleidoscope’s mission as we offer services for youth across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, with a special focus on neurodiverse youth. This month holds particular significance for us as we celebrate these youth who are on the autism and LGBTQIA+ spectrums.

For young people at the intersection of these identities, there are often many challenges. Understanding and navigating social dynamics can be particularly complex, as autistic individuals may struggle with social cues and norms, while also exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Exploring one’s identity is a fundamental aspect of adolescence, and for youth at this intersection, it can be especially nuanced. Understanding and expressing one’s gender identity or sexual orientation may be complicated by difficulties in self-expression and communication. Additionally, the concept of identity itself may be abstract and complex for some autistic individuals to grasp, leading to a more extended process of self-discovery.

The sensory sensitivities often associated with autism can further complicate matters, especially in environments where LGBTQ+ spaces may be overwhelming or overstimulating. We are mindful of our autistic youth who may have sensory sensitives. This includes being one of the only agencies that provides ear plugs at Pride Events and social events for folks who may be overstimulated by noise, keeping the lights and music low during movie or music nights, and having other sensory materials like fidget toys available to help youth regulate their anxiety or overwhelm.

Kaleidoscope is proud to be one of the few organizations who specialize in providing therapeutic and social support to youth who are both autistic and LGBTQ+, and training parents, educators, and LGBTQ+ organizations on best practices for providing inclusive spaces and support that cater to the unique needs of these youth. Educators, healthcare professionals and community leaders play a vital role in providing guidance and support to help individuals navigate their identities with confidence and resilience.

This month, we invite you to learn more about how you can support LGBTQ+ Autistic youth at our special needs resource fair on Sunday April 28 from 11am-2pm. This is an opportunity for parents and professionals to discover the wonderful resources that Los Angeles has to offer its special needs community. RSVP HERE to attend this free event!

Have additional questions about this event? Please contact us at [email protected].
Would you like to Volunteer at this event? Contact [email protected] for info.

Embracing Trans Resilience: Honoring Trans Day of Visibility 495 401 cj

Embracing Trans Resilience: Honoring Trans Day of Visibility

Honoring Trans Day of Visibility

Embracing Trans Resilience: Honoring Trans Day of Visibility

Every year, March 31st marks a pivotal day in the LGBTQ+ calendar—Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV). It is a day dedicated to celebrating the resilience, strength, and contributions of transgender and gender-diverse individuals worldwide. More than just a day of recognition, TDOV serves as a powerful reminder of the need for visibility and acceptance.

The Significance of Trans Day of Visibility
TDOV was founded to push back against the marginalization faced by the transgender community. It stands as a beacon of hope, urging society to recognize and honor the diverse experiences and identities of trans people. This day is about amplifying voices, fostering understanding, and advocating for equality and inclusivity. In a world where trans youth are up against many challenges, celebrating trans joy and visibility is more important than ever.

Celebrating Trans Youth at Kaleidoscope
Despite facing significant challenges and discrimination, transgender individuals, and especially transgender youth, continue to exhibit unparalleled strength and resilience. Their stories of perseverance inspire and empower others. One trans Kaleidoscope participant volunteered to share her experience at our program:

“To me, trans visibility means feeling genuinely known and properly understood. Seeing other people like me in the media who aren’t {negatively stereotyped} makes me feel safe in the world.

Kaleidoscope has helped me by guiding me through certain issues like loneliness and depression. I have also found new friends and allies through the service.”

Trans Day of Visibility provides an opportunity for trans teens like our Kaleidoscope participants to feel supported and celebrated in their identities. Communities often organize events, discussions, and awareness campaigns specifically geared towards understanding and embracing transgender individuals, a practice often known as celebrating trans joy. For trans youth, focusing on the positive contributions and representations of the trans community can provide them with validation and a sense of hope for the future.

Kaleidoscope is proud to serve the many trans youth who walk through our doors, as well as and provide support to educators, therapists and other support staff who work with trans youth. Want to know what you can do be part of the Trans Day of Visibility movement?
• Educate yourself and your community how to be a good ally and how to best support transgender youth.
•Learn more about the importance of inclusive language.
•Volunteer your time with us, and help be a positive, inclusive role model for our young people. We welcome volunteers ages 18 + who are LGBTQ+ or allies, and are passionate about being positive, inclusive role models for our young people. Email [email protected] with the subject “Volunteer” to get started!

As we commemorate Trans Day of Visibility, Kaleidoscope stands in solidarity with our transgender community—not just on this day but every day.
Let’s build a world where every individual can live authentically and proudly.

With love,

a look at the year ahead 2024
A look Back at 2023 as We Leap Forward to 2024. 495 401 cj

A look Back at 2023 as We Leap Forward to 2024.

kaleidoscope - a look at the year ahead 2024

Kaleidoscope: A Look Back at 2023 as We Leap Forward to 2024.

By Jay Baldwin

Can you believe it’s 2024? As we head into a new year, our Kaleidoscope team is reflecting back on all the wonderful experiences we had serving our LGBTQ+ youth and engaging with the broader LGBTQ+ and allied community and are excited to look ahead to 2024!

In 2023 we were proud to offer multiple social groups to our young people this year, including multiple Movie “Pride” Nights where we featured media with positive representations of LGBTQ+ teens, a smashing Halloween Party with amazing costumes, and an end of year winter party where one of the highlights was participants creating their own LGBTQ+ affirming poetry.

We began Kaleidoscope’s First Annual Youth Council, a group of LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse youth who help Kaleidoscope plan social events for youth, give us feedback on our services, and contribute ideas for future programming. We look forward to continuing to work with these young people in the upcoming year as we build our 2024 programming!

And let’s not forget the amazing time we had celebrating Pride Month, the biggest month for our organization! As an organization that serves LGBTQ+ youth, we were particularly moved by families with children who approached our booths at all our pride events, showed support, and sought out resources for the LGBTQ+ young people in their lives. It has been a very challenging year for LGBTQ+ youth in 2023, and the power of affirming parents and caregivers to change and save these young lives cannot be overstated.

Looking Ahead in 2024

We’re excited about getting the community involved in our upcoming events. Next up, we’re putting a fun spin on Valentine’s day with our annual “Palentine’s” Day Party, an event meant to celebrate friendship, chosen family and self-care with arts and crafts, games, and a pizza dinner. LGBTQ+ youth and allies ages 11-17 are always welcome to attend as well as our amazing volunteers who contribute to making these occasions special.

Our volunteers have been essential in making events and programs like the above possible! As we head into this new year, our vision in 2024 is to expand our programming so that we can reach even more youth and provide them with a safe space to be their authentic selves. Our goal is to provide in-person and virtual LGBTQ+ themed social events and more opportunities to meet up at pride festivals. Want to help us reach our goal? We welcome volunteers ages 18 + who are LGBTQ+ or allies, and are passionate about working with LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Email [email protected] with the subject “Volunteer” to get started.

If you are a young person who wishes to get involved, please join our Youth Council, a leadership program for LGBTQIA and neurodivergent youth between the ages of 15 and 22. Our youth council members provide us with valuable feedback about programming, help out at events, and contribute ideas for new offerings each month!

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, we look forward to seeing you in 2024!

How to Affirm LGBTQ+ Youth During the Holiday Season 495 401 cj

How to Affirm LGBTQ+ Youth During the Holiday Season

How to Affirm LGBTQ+ Youth During the Holiday Season

By Jay Baldwin

The winter holidays are a time when family and friends come together and celebrate, reminisce and make memories for years to come. But this time of year can also be filled with conflict and stress. For LGBTQ people especially, the holidays can bring up particular difficulties. Whether they are visiting family who don’t accept or understand their identity, being reminded of childhood trauma, or struggling with disordered eating, the holidays can bring up anxiety for many queer and trans people.

How can you ensure that your child or an LGBTQ+ youth in your life feels welcomed and safe this holiday season?

Talk to the LGBTQ youth in your life

The first step is to have a conversation the LGBTQ+ youth in your life about the upcoming holidays and any family visits that may be planned. Ask them if they have any stress, anxiety, or worries about the holidays as it relates to their identity. Ask them how you can support them best. Establish what they specifically need during the holiday and come up with a plan if necessary for how you will approach family members who aren’t as supportive or familiar with their LGBTQ+ identity.

Talk to family members and friends

Set aside time to speak with any family and friends who you will see during the holiday season. Let them know you love and support your child and set expectations about what behavior is expected of them. Make it clear that homophobic and transphobic comments will not be allowed.

If your child uses a different name or pronouns than what they grew up with, make sure friends know that they need to use the correct name and pronouns during their visit. Offer grace to people who are still adjusting by practicing with them, and role model how to apologize if you make a mistake with pronouns or name. (Apologize briefly, say the sentence again with the correct pronoun, and move on.)

Treat your child the way you would any other young person

Invite your child’s significant other to the holiday, if you would do the same for a straight child. Treat their significant other with friendliness and respect. Welcome them as a part of the family!

Practice allyship in the moment

An ally is a person who is not part of the community who actively stands up against LGBTQ+ discrimination. Be an ally to your child during the holiday. If a homophobic or transphobic comment is made, speak up and enforce the expectations you have set for the holidays. Make it clear that similar language or attitudes will not be tolerated at your holiday. If an incident turns into an argument or becomes unsafe, give your child permission to leave the room if needed while you navigate the conflict.

If you do not feel it is possible to prevent a conflict around LGBTQ issues with family or friends, consider hosting a smaller gathering without homophobic or transphobic relatives so that your child can experience a peaceful and comfortable holiday with you.

Donate to Kaleidoscope

Not every child has the same amount of resources, affirming family members, or access to LGBTQ+ spaces.  Consider sharing your generosity with LGBTQ+ youth this holiday season by donating to Kaleidoscope and helping us continue our LGBTQ+ affirming programing for our young people in the new year!

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, thank you for being with us for all of 2023. We wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday season, and a joyous new year!

The Value of Parent Support Groups 495 400 cj

The Value of Parent Support Groups

The Value of Parent Support Groups

By Jess Furrer

If you had access to a time-machine, what period of your life would you revisit? For some adults, maybe revisiting a favorite family memory, when your child was a certain age, or your own childhood. How many adults would like to revisit or re-live your teenage years? For me, the idea of reliving my teenage years is a resounding NO.

Adolescence can be difficult to navigate for a myriad of reasons. Teenagers are often trying to figure out who they are and what they feel, while also wanting to create and keep friendships or relationships. It is a lot to navigate for a teenager on top of going to school, being active on social media, and being encouraged to plan for the future. LGBTQIA+ and autistic teenagers often must navigate more complex situations like coming out, discrimination, being misgendered, managing sensory needs, communication differences, and the list goes on. Parenting a teenager who is going through any or all of these experiences can also be challenging, confusing, or nerve-wracking. But family acceptance and support can make a huge difference in the overall wellbeing of LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent youth.

Joining a parent support group is a wonderful resource for parents of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens as it can be comforting and empowering to talk with fellow parents who are on the same journey.

Can you explain what a parent education and support group is all about?

A parent education and support group is a safe space where parents and caregivers alike come together to learn about specific topics, and connect, relate, and support one another. Participants are often able to share their stories of parenthood, exchange resources, and build relationships with others who hold similar experiences.

Current Groups:

Due to positive feedback from previous participants, Kaleidoscope is re-offering a six-week, parent education and support group that focuses on the intersection between Autism and LGBTQIA+ identities. The group is designed to provide psychoeducation and support to parents and close family members of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens aged 12-17. The group is 1.5 hours in length for six weeks. It is guided by a Kaleidoscope psychology doctoral intern who provides psychoeducation and facilitates group conversations. Each week there is a specialized topic including: mental health, friendships and online relationships, dating and sex, and managing difficult moments (meltdowns and pathological (persistent) demand avoidance). If various parents want support on another related topic, we aim to make space to address it.

What would you say to a parent that would like to attend our parent support group but feels a bit nervous about it? What can they expect?

It’s natural and normal to feel nervous about trying something new. Participants can expect to enter a judgment-free zone where they can truly explore their journey in parenthood. Whether it’s by sharing their own story or listening to others, participants often report feeling less alone and/or feeling more empowered after engaging in our parent education and support group. There is no expectation to “have it all figured out.” We just ask that interested participants have the intention of affirming their teen, are open to discussing complex topics, and interact from a place of curiosity and respect.

Sometimes parents are worried about using the correct terminology when speaking about their LGBTQIA+ kids or about LGBTQIA+ issues in general. Do you think a parent support group can help address these concerns?

We are all human, and mistakes (aka opportunities for growth) will happen. Kaleidoscope provides a safe environment with unconditional positive regard to encourage group participants in their understanding of LGBTQIA+ and autistic topics and their ability to engage more inclusively with the community. Remember, we’re in this together!

To join this support group for parents and close family members of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens aged 12-17, please reach out to Jess Furrer to set up an intake session at [email protected].

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month 495 401 cj

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month, a month-long celebration that occurs in October was first celebrated in the United States in 1994, when Rodney Wilson, an openly gay high school teacher from Missouri, passionately advocated for the idea of dedicating a month to honor gay and lesbian history. With the already established National Coming Out Day on October 11th, and the anniversary of the first march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights in 1979, October was chosen not only for its historical significance, but also because it’s a month when students are in school. This allows a wonderful opportunity to educate and engage kids of all ages in meaningful and age-appropriate conversations about LGBTQ history.

Why is it important for students to learn about LGBTQ+ History?

Creating an environment of inclusion promotes engagement for all students and provides them with opportunities to explore the many experiences of LGBTQIA+ people. Research indicates that when LGBTQIA+ people and events are excluded from history curricula, it perpetuates negative stereotypes about the LGBTQIA+ community and increases bullying of LGBTQIA+ young people. Curriculum that includes positive representations, however, helps promote respect for LGBTQIA+ students and improve all students’ overall school experience by promoting diversity and teaching them about the variety of identities in their communities.

How can you celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month with your students?

1.Use LGBTQ+ Primary Sources Into your Lessons

From the American Revolution to Early 20th Century Immigration to World War II, the California History Social Science Project has created amazing lesson plans featuring a collection of LGBTQ+ primary sources designed for use in the K-12 classroom. Each set includes context, focus questions, further readings, and a plethora of primary sources to help teachers infuse their curriculum with LGBTQ voices. Check out the project here!

2. Build an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Classroom Library or Request One

Do you want to incorporate more LGBTQ+ themed books into your library classroom but don’t know where to start? Check out the links below for age-appropriate reading material for K-12.

LGBTQ+ Children’s Books
LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Books
LGBTQ+ Young Adult Books

You can also check out the Rainbow Library Project through GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). The Rainbow Library Project is a program that sends LGBTQ+ affirming K-12 to select states for free!

Kaleidoscope acknowledges that in many parts of the country, having LGBTQ+ inclusive literature in the classroom may not be possible. If you do not feel able or safe to incorporate books into the classroom but would still like your students to have access, individuals ages 13-21 residing anywhere in the United States can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to Brooklyn Library’s full eBook collection as well as their learning databases. To apply, have your students’ email [email protected].

3. Feature LGBTQ+ Classroom Decorations

Inclusive lessons can also include classroom décor! There are many ways to visually represent the many contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community. For example, in elementary schools, a family tree wall could include images of families featuring two moms or two dads to show the many different ways families are made. In history or social studies classrooms, teachers and other staff can feature photos of LGBTQIA+ political leaders or images of demonstrations for equality. In secondary learning spaces, the rainbow flag could be displayed with information about its origin and significance.

This month, Kaleidoscope is proud to be celebrating by providing LGBTQ+ History Resources to our local GSA, where they will learn about LGBTQ+ trailblazers throughout history through LGBTQ+ History Flashcards. We will also be showing our support for National Coming Out Day by offering our new counseling staff LGBTQ+ regalia to hang in their offices to signal that they are affirming providers for clients and they are safe to be their authentic selves.

Want to find out more ways to bring LGBTQ+ history to your classroom or other educational settings for youth? Email us at [email protected] for fun ideas and lesson plans to bring LGBTQ+ activists and leaders to life. From all of us, wishing you a joyous LGBTQ+ History Month.

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students 495 401 cj

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students

Going back to school can cause a variety of emotions for students, and LGBTQ+ students are no exception. Many queer and transgender young people have a particular set of challenges to navigate in school settings. With Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation at an all time high,  the mental health impact of our LGBTQ+ students is even greater.

The Trevor Projects’ National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health reports:

  • 6 in 10 LGBT students report feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  • LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers

It is important to emphasize that LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk and mental health issues because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but are at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society. (Trevor Project, 2022)

As a teacher, staff or other student support individual, here is the statistic that is most important to remember:

LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult in their lives are 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Teachers and school staff can make a profound difference in their LGBTQ+ students’ lives by showing them support, affirmation and acceptance. Being an accepting adult could save one of your students’ lives.

Here are some simple but meaningful ways that you can be an affirming adult for your students:

Ask Your Students at the Beginning of the School Year How You Should Refer to Them

Some students may use a different name or pronouns than you may first assume. Some students are in the process of changing their pronouns or names. One helpful tool is creating a “getting to know you” form that includes asking students what pronouns and name they would like you to use for them at the beginning of the school year. Because some students live in homes that do not affirm their identity, make sure to ask whether or not it’s okay to use these pronouns and name when speaking with their parents or caregivers. This form is a great tool for any educator getting started.

Re-Think Your Use of Gendered Language

Most of us have been raised to think of gender as a binary (something consisting of just two parts). In this case, it is the idea that there are only two genders: male/female, boy/girl. Expanding your vocabulary and using non gendered language is one of the simplest but most affirming ways to create an inclusive atmosphere for all students,  and to also avoid misgendering students. Instead of saying “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” try “folks”, “everyone” or “friends” when addressing your classroom or groups of students. Use your students’ names as opposed to referring to them with “Mr. or Ms.”

Be Visible

Many people in the LGBTQ+ community, youth and adults alike, rely on non-verbal cues to know whether someone or somewhere is safe and accepting. Small items like a rainbow flag, a safe space sticker, a rainbow lanyard to hold your ID badge, or a pronoun pin that says your own pronouns can be a visible signal to your students that you are going to affirm and support their identity.  To make your classroom or office as welcoming as possible, here’s an amazing and free Safe Space Kit from an organization called GLSEN that offers free downloadable safe space posters  and other LGBTQ+ affirming items.

Be Vocal

Part of being visible also means being vocal and standing up to anti-LGBTQ language and behaviors.  If anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination happens at school and is not addressed by adults, this sends a message to your students that this behavior is acceptable. The Human Rights Campaign offers a variety of helpful tools to help you stop harassment as opposed to ignoring it, be proactive, and educate your students.

Keep an Open Mind & Remember It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Do you have a student whose identity you don’t completely understand? Maybe you keep slipping up on pronouns, or feel like you don’t know the right terminology? It’s okay to make mistakes or not understand everything right away. The most important part is to keep an open mind, apologize when you make a mistake, and be committed to continually getting to know your students. Need a few more definitions, or a refresher on some LGBTQ+ terminology? Here’s a helpful glossary that can help shed light on the subject!

Consider Starting a GSA or Other LGBTQ+ Club at Your School

Being the adult advisor or leader of your school’s GSA can go a long way toward creating a safer and more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students. If you need help getting started, the GSA Network’s 10 Steps to Creating a GSA is an amazing resource! Need more help? Kaleidoscope is happy to provide you with even more resources to help kick start your GSA or other LGBTQ+ space. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

Kaleidoscope is so deeply appreciative of all our teachers and educators around the world who are working to make schools a safer and more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ youth. Wishing you a wonderful back to school season!

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead
Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community 495 401 cj

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

By Leo Kirkham

The New Year is a time for reflection and renewal. For the LGBTQ community, the New Year can be a time to remember the past year’s accomplishments and losses for queer and trans people.

There is no denying that 2022 was a difficult year for the LGBTQ community. From the Club Q mass shooting that left 5 dead, 19 injured, and an entire community grieving and destabilized, to armed far right Proud Boy protesters shutting down drag queen story times, our right to gather and express ourselves freely is being threatened by violence, intimidation, and hate.

2022 was a record year for anti-LGBTQ legislation: over 162 bills restricting LGBTQ rights were introduced in state legislatures. 58 were related to youth athletics, 44 had restrictions on curriculum, 30 had restrictions on adolescent healthcare, and 17 were related to religious and First Amendment exemptions.

But things are not all bad for the LGBTQ community. We are continuing to live and thrive as our authentic selves despite the hostility in the world.

In hopeful news, the House and the Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act, protecting same-sex and interracial marriages. Reception from the LGBTQ community has been mixed: on the one hand, the law passed and will protect same-sex marriages if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. On the other hand, it does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage, only to recognize legal marriages from other states.

Earlier this year, clinical trials began for three different HIV vaccines.

The Biden Administration began paying survivor’s benefits to LGBTQ elders.

Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star and Black lesbian, was just released from a Russian penal colony where she was held for ten months for possession of a vape containing hashish oil. She was returned to the U.S. during a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Biden administration.

This year, the “X” gender marker (an alternative to “F” and “M”) became available on U.S. passports. The Social Security Administration also no longer requires a doctor’s note to confirm a change of gender.

A new California bill will protect trans kids and their families fleeing states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Idaho which are criminalizing gender affirming healthcare for trans youth. SB 107 in California, proposed by Scott Wiener, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

So what can we expect next year? We can only expect to see the progress that we fight for. The successes that we see in our public sphere and private lives must be celebrated as we continue to work toward justice and equality.

What are you doing next year for queer and trans kids? Some ways to give back are to donate to organizations like Equality Texas, Equality Florida, Trans Lifeline, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You can also give a gift to a transgender youth this holiday season through Trans Santa. Consider joining your school board and advocating for LGBTQ students in your school district. Looking for more resources to support your child or trans youth in general? Check out

Next year, we can expect to see queer and trans resilience, excellence, love, and joy. We’re here, we’re queer, and it’s a new year.

Embracing Chosen Family Durning the Holidays and All Year Round
Embracing Chosen Family During the Holidays and All Year Round 495 401 cj

Embracing Chosen Family During the Holidays and All Year Round

Embracing Chosen Family Durning the Holidays and All Year Round

Embracing Chosen Family During the Holidays and All Year Round

By Jay Baldwin

“It’s the most wonderful time….of the year.”

This time of year is typically associated with family gatherings full of celebrations, joy and togetherness. We are inundated by Hallmark movies, TV commercials, and social media posts that would have us believe that everyone should be sitting around a fireplace with their loved ones having the most wonderful holiday celebrations. Not everyone, however, has a family of origin they can or even want to be with for a variety of reasons. An increasing number of people, especially folks in the LGBTQ+ community, opt to surround themselves with their chosen family instead of their family of origin, not just during the holiday season but all year round.

Chosen families are the people we surround ourselves with who love us, support us and embrace us for exactly who we are. For many, they are far more loving and nurturing than the families they were born into. But it’s also important to note that a chosen family does *not* require the absence of a family of origin. Chosen family can exist as a powerful source of community in and of itself, or as an additional source of joy and support in addition to one’s family of origin.

Chosen families in the LGBTQ+ community have existed for decades. For centuries, the queer community has found a way to connect with each other and build systems of support when the heteronormative world was not a safe place to be seen and known. For many LGBTQ+ people who are seeking acceptance and understanding of their full selves, surrounding themselves with likeminded and like-identified folks can transform and even save their lives.

This holiday season, I invite you to think about our LGBTQ+ young people who are still navigating how to come out in their own families, facing rejection, or struggling to find their chosen family. I am proud to be donating to an organization called Transanta that helps deliver gifts to transgender youth in need, safely and anonymously. Transsanta was created because “right now, young trans people, particularly Black and Brown trans youth, are under attack across the country and around the world. The pandemic has exacerbated unsafe conditions for trans youth who are houseless, in foster care, in detention, and in abusive or otherwise unsafe housing situations. Transanta was created to show young people that they are loved, supported, and have a family of people around the world who care about them and want them to succeed.”

No matter what community we are a part of, we all desire and deserve meaningful and supportive connections throughout every stage of life. Whether you identify as LGBTQ+, or as a member of a different community entirely, I invite you to think about the concept of chosen family if you haven’t before, or what it means to be part of someone else’s chosen family. Who have you invited into your life who you consider family, even though you didn’t necessarily grow up with them? What kind of family do you want to surround yourself with and be a part of that you perhaps haven’t before? Whether you are with your family of origin, your chosen family, both, or neither, whether you are celebrating a lot, a little, or not at all, I see each and every one of you, and I wish you all a safe and healthy holiday season.

Strategies for Supporting LGBTQ+ 495 400 cj

Strategies for Supporting LGBTQ+

Strategies for Supporting

LGBTQ+ Young People During A Summer in Quarantine

It is understandable to struggle with feelings of fear and anxiety surrounding the  COVID-19 pandemic, but our LGBTQ+ young people may be especially vulnerable to the impact on their mental health. The emotions that may be expressed include grief, sadness, disappointment and anger – all so relatable!

In addition, while we hope that our LGBTQ+ young people are in loving family homes, the reality is that there are some youth who are in unsupportive environments this summer and experiencing a deep loss of connection with the LGBTQ+ community.

All kids, teens, and young adults deserve trusted and supportive adults in their lives. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, sibling, caregiver, teacher, coach, ally, or friend of an LGBTQ+ young person, you can help! Here are three strategies that can offer support to LGBTQ+ youth this summer.

1. Encourage kids, teens, and young adults to find community online

Just because we are keeping our physical distance from other people doesn’t mean we have to be socially isolated. There is a whole world online where friendships can flourish.

And if a LGBTQ+ young person is living with people who are unable or unwilling to offer support, they can reach out to other family members, allies, friends, teachers, clubs and support groups on-line via Zoom or Skype. Young people can also use Tik Tok and Instagram to connect and build community.

Encourage the LGBTQ+ young people in your life to stay connected online. The Kaleidoscope Program offers free, virtual, weekly programs such as the Pride Club and Creative Expressions Group for 12-17 year olds, as well as a Coffee Chat Group for 18-24 years olds.

If possible, offer a young person a space where they can use their phone or laptop to access safe online groups. Let them know that it shows strength to reach out to others and that you are proud of them for extending their friendship to other young people.

2. Enjoy the great OUTdoors!

Health experts say that it is safe to go outside and it’s completely worth doing so that you can get out of the house, get some exercise, and have some fun.

Invite the LGBTQ+ young person in your life to go on a morning hike when the temperature is lower, or spend the day in the sun at the beach, if it is safe in your area to do so. Spending time with a supportive adult can give a young person the safe space to relax and be themselves. You can discuss LGBTQ current events and allow the young person to process how they feel about what is going on in the world. Or you can just go in the ocean and splash around to your heart’s content. Remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing!

3. Celebrate Pride Month all summer long!

June is the official Pride month but Pride can be celebrated all summer long! Because many Pride celebrations all over the world were cancelled this year, the LGBTQ+ young people in your life may be feeling a deep sense of disappointment. But let them know that you are a safe and supportive ally in their life and that they are deserving of celebrating Pride all summer long.

You can help them order Pride decorations for both inside or outside their home. A google search will result in lots of ideas for fun rainbow craft projects. And if you like to cook, share your interest and teach the young person you care about how to make delicious and fun rainbow themed recipes.

So even though life may feel overwhelming for all of us, the good news is there are ways you can bring joy, fun and pride this summer into the lives of the kids, teens, and young adults who brighten up your life. Best wishes for a great summer from all of us at The Help Group’s Kaleidoscope Program!


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