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LGBTQIA+ History Month

The Value of Parent Support Groups 495 400 CJ Bourque

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 Bourque

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.

“Coming Out”: A Journey, Not A Destination 495 401 CJ Bourque

“Coming Out”: A Journey, Not A Destination

By: Sarah Bruce

“Coming Out”: A Journey, Not A Destination

October is here, marking the return of pumpkin spice, LGBTQIA+ History Month, and National Coming Out Day! National Coming Out Day, celebrated every year on October 11, was established to raise awareness about the LGBTQIA+ community and to show support for LGBTQIA+ equality. For many, National Coming Out Day evokes feelings of pride and excitement, yet others may feel pressured and anxious about “coming out” (sharing information about their gender identity or sexual orientation with others). “Coming out” is often conceptualized as an “act of bravery” or a decision to “live openly and authentically,” which can potentially leave those who struggle with defining and sharing their gender identity and/or sexual orientation feeling ashamed and alone. Feelings associated with “coming out” are personal and unique to every individual, and “coming out” often gives rise to both positive and negative emotions.

When making decisions about if and when to “come out,” LGBTQIA+ people may consider a variety of different factors, including safety, housing, and potential reactions of family members and friends. As some families may reject LGBTQIA+ family members and refuse to allow them to live at home, many LGBTQIA+ people are unable to “come out,” because doing so could place them in an unsafe environment or lead to homelessness. They may also decide not to “come out” at a certain time due to fear of rejection and disconnection from loved ones. LGBTQIA+ people may choose not to “come out” even when their family and friends may be supportive, because they are not sure how loved ones will react and may not want to risk losing the acceptance and respect of the people they care about the most. Certain situations can also lead LGBTQIA+ people to wait to come out, such as feeling unsure about their gender identity and/or sexual orientation or experiencing negative feelings about their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

In the media and popular culture, “coming out” is often portrayed as a life-changing, singular event that either ends in crushing disappointment or a great celebration (a kiss between two gay characters on a Ferris wheel to thunderous cheers and applause in Love Simon comes to mind). However, it may be more accurate to think of “coming out” as a life-long journey rather than a final destination. “Coming out” is a decision that is made every day during every social interaction. As gender identity, sexual orientation, and pronouns may shift from day to day or multiple times over the course of a lifetime, “coming out” may also occur with the same set of people multiple times. Neurodivergent individuals who also identify as LGBTQIA+ may consider disclosing their neurodiversity to others as a form of “coming out,” such that they are engaging in “double coming out” throughout their lifetime. In addition, some individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ decide never to “come out.”

“Coming out” is a journey that may evoke negative emotions but can also include moments of beautiful, affirming relationship growth. Every LGBTQIA+ person has a unique “coming out” timeline, and determining this timeline is a personal and complex process. LGBTQIA+ people are deserving of love, respect, acceptance, and support no matter where they are on their “coming out” journey. If you or someone you care about would like to explore “coming out” or other LGBTQIA+-related topics, seek support, or connect with others in the LGBTQIA+ community, please contact us at Kaleidoscope for more information.

October is LGBTQ+ History Month! 495 400 CJ Bourque

October is LGBTQ+ History Month!

October is

LGBTQ+ History Month!

When we celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, we promote equality and diversity, raise awareness of LGBTQ+ identities, provide understanding of the complex nature of gender, biology, and romantic/sexual orientation, and honor those LGBTQ+ figures who changed the world. 

 There are many ways for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and their allies, to celebrate this month. As Laverne Cox, transgender rights activist and actress, so eloquently stated, “I’ve never been interested in being invisible or erased.” Here are some suggestions for honoring the LGBTQ+ figures who paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible and proud!: 

Suggestions for Teachers:

Strive to creatively weave historical LGBTQ+ figures into your curriculum. Introduce students to the lived experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ+ icons through stories, visual art, food, music, and film. A curriculum that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender-expansive historical figures creates a more affirming environment and healthy self-concept for LGBTQ+ students while also raising awareness for all students. 

Suggestions for Students:

Make your voice heard! Make an appointment with your Principal and ask to read an announcement about LGBTQ+ History Month. Or submit an article to your school’s newspaper. If your school has a GSA, have the group plan a special lunchtime event like “Karaoke to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Musicians.” And if your school doesn’t have a GSA, this is the perfect month to start one! 

Suggestions For Parents: 

Show your affirming support for your LGBTQ+ child in a demonstrable manner. Buy a LGBTQ+ flag and fly it proudly outside your home. Make  a point to read up on LGBTQ+ historical figures and share your knowledge at the dinner table. Show your LGBTQ+ child that you will stand up to those who have outdated and unwelcome attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community. Be a LGBTQ+ hero for your child! 

Suggestions For Friends and Allies:

Sometimes simple things can make a difference in showing your LGBTQ+ friends that you are a strong ally. Wear a rainbow shirt, add your pronouns on your Instagram bio, or bake your LGBTQ+ friends some rainbow cupcakes!  

Suggestions For Co-Workers:

You can demonstrate that you are an ally to your LGBTQ+ co-workers by adding your pronouns to your email signature, as well as wearing a rainbow lanyard and a pronoun pin at workShow interest in your LGBTQ+ co-worker’s life and ask about their interests outside of work. The more work friends the better! 

And to all of our friends in the LGBTQ+ community:

Happy LGBTQ+ History Month! We see you, we support you, and we are proud of you! And as the great gay playwright, actor, and Tony winner Harvey Fierstein said, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself!” 

Want to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community? Please join us! Kaleidoscope offers free groups and clubs for teens ages 12-17 and young adults 18-24. We also have a free bi- monthly parent/ally/caregiver support group. 


For more information

National Spirit Day 2019 495 400 CJ Bourque

National Spirit Day 2019

National Spirit Day 2019

National Spirit Day was conceptualized in 2010 by a high school student, and has become an international movement of solidarity and support against bullying in the LGBTQ+ community. This year, our Kaleidoscope program invited The Help Group’s schools to participate in the 2019 National Spirit Day and spoke about the importance of fostering safe spaces for their LGBTQ+ youth.

Nationally, 7 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students reportedly experience harassment while at school. By inviting students, teachers, administrators, and staff to participate by wearing purple on October 17th, Kaleidoscope and The Help Group sent a strong message of support to the LGBTQ+ and allied students, while taking a firm stance against bullying.