Posts Tagged :


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.

How to Affirm Your LGBTQ+ Students
How to Affirm your LGBTQ+ Students 495 401 cj

How to Affirm your LGBTQ+ Students

How to Affirm Your LGBTQ+ Students

How to Affirm your LGBTQ+ Students

By Jay Baldwin

It’s back to school season, and schools across the United States are welcoming a new set of youth into their classrooms. 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, and teachers and school staff can make a profound difference in their LGBTQ+ students’ lives by showing them support, affirmation and acceptance. The statistics for many students in the LGBTQ+ community are staggering. 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.

Being an accepting adult could save one of your students’ lives. Here are some simple but meaningful ways that you can be an affirming and accepting adult for your students:

Create visual cues in your office/classroom that signal support for the community

Because many people in the LGBTQ+ community 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, or a pronoun pin that says your own pronouns can signal to your students that you are going to affirm and support their identity.

Avoid gendered language

Using non gendered language is one of the simplest but most affirming ways to create an inclusive atmosphere and also avoid misgendering students. Instead of saying “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” try “folks”, “everyone” or “friends.” Use your students’ names as opposed to referring to them with “Mr. or Ms.”

Ask students how they’d like to be referred to

Some students may use a different name or pronouns than you may first assume. One helpful tool is creating a “getting to know you” form that includes asking students what pronouns and name they’d 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.

Keep an open mind, and be prepared 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 and the ways they want to be seen and known.

Provide statements of affirmation.

Tell your students that their identities are valuable and beautiful. In a world where LGBTQ+ people are regularly under attack, your students need this more than ever.


Wishing you all a wonderful back to school season, and here is to creating a safer and more inclusive world for all of our LGBTQ+ youth.

Coming Out As the Parent of An LGBTQ+ Child
Coming Out as the Parent of an LGBTQ+ Child 495 401 Jay Baldwin

Coming Out as the Parent of an LGBTQ+ Child

Coming Out As the Parent of An LGBTQ+ Child

Coming Out as the Parent of an LGBTQ+ Child

By Jay Baldwin

Every week, I meet parents who tell me the story about their child or young adult coming out to them as LGBTQ+. For some parents, their child came out to them at an early age and they are a few years into their journey. For other parents, their children only just came out in the past few weeks or months and they are just starting to navigate what it all means. Whatever the case may be, just as a LGBTQ+ youth has their own coming out process, parents and caregivers of LGBTQ+ youth will have their own coming out process too.

Some parents may find it easy to accept their child as LGBTQ+, while others may express hesitation or uncertainty about their child’s identity. While the journey to understand, accept and affirm an LGBTQ+ child throughout their life is not linear by any means, there are often common themes, themes and emotions that I see expressed by parents who are raising an LGBTQ+ child, regardless of their level of acceptance. Often, this starts with a lot of questions that come from a place of uncertainty, confusion and fear. Depending on one’s cultural and religious beliefs, many parents may wonder things like:

Is my child just going through a phase? Will my child ever get married or have children? Did my parenting style cause my child to be this way? How will people treat my child? How and when do I share my child’s identity with others? 

At Kaleidoscope, we want parents to know that these are all normal and understandable questions and reactions to a child’s LGBTQ+ identity. We also want parents to know that we offer several support groups for parents of LGBTQ+ youth to share their experiences, give and receive support, and learn about valuable resources. Here are a few commonly asked questions:

I’m nervous about attending a support group. What can I expect?

The purpose of our groups is to support you wherever you are in your journey. You are welcome here, and you will not be judged or shamed in any way.

I love my child, and I am also grieving the life I thought my child may have had. Can a support group help me with these kinds of feelings?

Parent support groups can help parents realize that grieving is a process. It is not linear and it takes time to adjust. It can be comforting to talk with other parents who may have similar feelings or initial reactions. Sharing these emotions in a safe space can provide an opportunity for self-exploration of one’s own biases and fears. It can often provide parents with a sense of hope to hear from other parents who have moved from a place of grief to acceptance.

There are groups for parents of neurotypical children and neurodivergent LGBTQ+ children. Is parenting an LGBTQ+ child similar for both cohorts?

Although each child with autism has a unique experience, LGBTQIA+ young people that are also on the autism spectrum may face more complex challenges than their neurotypical peers. It’s important to listen to these young people and consider the potential influence of certain factors, such as theory of mind deficits, social challenges, sensory sensitivity, and more, while also recognizing that autistic youth have as much of a right to identify and express who they are as neurotypical young people.

I’m interested! Where do I sign up? 

If you are interested in joining our Parent/Caregivers Support Group in English or in Spanish, please contact Dr. Joselyn Valle at [email protected]

To inquire about our new Parent Education Group for Parents of LGBTQ+ Autistic Youth that begins in September, contact Dr. Sarah Bruce at [email protected]

Kaleidoscope's Pride Month Recap
Pride Month 2022 Recap 495 400 cj

Pride Month 2022 Recap

Kaleidoscope's Pride Month Recap

Pride Month 2022 Recap

All of us at Kaleidoscope so enjoyed Pride Month 2022. June was a busy month for us and we thoroughly enjoyed participating in so many joyful Pride events.

We kicked off our month with Pasadena’s DCFS LGBTQIA+ Resource Fair on June 1st. It was a true pleasure to share information about our program with the many wonderful DCFS staff who attended the Resource Fair, and we appreciated their interest in our program.

Our next event was the fabulous WeHo Pride Street Festival and Parade on June 4th and 5th. The atmosphere during this weekend was positive, upbeat, and inclusive. The LGBTQIA+ community and their allies brought the fun and everyone was in a great mood. We gave rainbow striped notepads, erasers and lanyards to the folks visiting our booth and we were told our unique pronoun pins were the most popular give-away at the event.

The celebration continued at LA Pride on June 11th. We were truly honored to be a beneficiary of Cheer LA’s fundraising. Cheer LA is an active group of volunteers seeking to promote awareness, spirit, and diversity in the LGBTQIA+ community through dynamic cheer, dance, and stunt performances. Kaleidoscope is thrilled and grateful to receive over $1000 from Cheer LA.

We wrapped up June with one last event, the San Fernando Valley Pride Party on June 25. This family event, held at the Van Nuys Civic Center, was filled with joy, pride, and lots of karaoke!

In addition to attending Pride events, we provided two training sessions for the staff at Muskingum Health Center in Zanesville, Ohio. Muskingum Behavioral Health offers compassionate and effective counseling, prevention and recovery services along with recovery housing. Our Kaleidoscope team members provided a “LGBTQIA+ 101” training to the staff and a “Best LGBTQIA+ Practices for Clinicians” for their clinical staff.

We provided one training session and facilitated three candid conversations for the Segal Benz corporation. We received feedback that these sessions were transformative for the attendees and Segal Benz said they were so thrilled with the Kaleidoscope presenters that they booked their 2023 with us!

And to round out the month, Kaleidoscope provided a webcast on June 7th titled, “Providing Affirming Therapeutic Support to LGBTQIA+ Youth and Young Adults.” This free webcast offered practical strategies and suggestions for mental health professionals, educators, parents, allies, and the community at large. If you missed it or would like to re-watch it, please click here for the recording.

All in all, it was a fun and productive month. If you would like to lend your support to The Help Group’s Kaleidoscope program, please donate here.

Happy Pride everybody!

The Intersectionality Of The Autism and LGBTQIA+ Spectrums 495 401 cj

The Intersectionality Of The Autism and LGBTQIA+ Spectrums

The Intersectionality Of The ASD and LGBTQIA+ Spectrums

April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time to increase understanding of people with autism, and to provide continued support, kindness, and compassion for the autism community. Acceptance is also a big part of Kaleidoscope’s mission to provide services for young people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. April is an important month for us as we celebrate our clients who are on both the autism and LGBTQIA+ spectrums.

Several studies now show that there is a distinct intersectionality of the Autism and LGBTQIA+ spectrums. Intersectionality is defined as a crossroads where two seemingly different things overlap. For example, the research shows that a high number of autistic people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer as compared to the general population. “Most of the data that we are seeing is that the rate for autistic people who identify as LGBTQIA+ is two to three times higher,” says Clinical Psychologist Eileen T. Crehan, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Tufts University. But larger studies need to be conducted before the true rate is known, she says.

We also know that gender, like autism, exists on a spectrum. The two spectrums, gender and autism, are now considered to frequently overlap. A recent study revealed that gender identity (a person’s internal sense of their own gender) and sexuality are more varied among autistic people than in the general population, and autism is more common among people who do not identify as their assigned sex at birth. Research shows that children with autism are 7.6 times more likely to express gender variance. Clinicians and researchers have noted a trend over the last twenty-five years with increasing numbers of children who are seeking professional care related to gender identity who also identify as autistic or having autistic traits.

Overall, autism appears to be more prevalent among gender-diverse people. A larger percentage of autistic people reported their gender as being something other than strictly male or female, as compared to other people. Gender diversity is defined as an Identity beyond the male/female binary framework. A 2018 Australian survey of transgender teens and young adults found that 22.5% had been diagnosed with autism. Research suggests that people who have an autism diagnosis or autism traits are more likely to identify as transgender. One study found the rate to be 2 -3 times higher in people who have autism.

For some autistic LGBTQIA+ young people, there is a sense of isolation and of not belonging. Belonginess, as defined by Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, at the Stanford Center for Research and Disease Prevention, is “a sense of belonging that is a basic human need – as basic as food and shelter.” Dr. Pelleetier continues, “Social support may be one of the critical elements distinguishing those who remain healthy from those who will become ill.”

Our Kaleidoscope team understands that our autistic LGBTQIA+ clients may find some aspects of “belongingness” challenging due to deficits in social communication and difficulty initiating social interactions. Our hope is that our social support groups can be a resource for those who seek to belong in a community. Our online and upcoming in-person LGBTQIA+ social support groups, Pride Club for teens and Coffee Chat for young adults, offer a sense of empowerment and increased self-esteem for young LGBTQIA+ people, due to a kind, inclusive environment with non-judgemental peers.

Research proves that accepting behaviors by peers and adults such as respect, support, and kindness, can positively impact autistic LGBTQIA+ young people as evidenced by higher self-esteem, better overall health, and a belief that they will be healthy, happy adults.

Cheers to a happy Autism Acceptance Month!