Supporting Young People with Sexuality and Gender Identity

As your child grows, they might feel uncertain about their sexuality, gender identity, or who they are attracted to. They may also experience changes in their sexuality or gender over time

Understanding Sexuality and Gender Identity

Gender identity is how someone feels inside, like whether they see themselves as male, female, or another gender. Sexuality is about who they're attracted to.

One is about who they are, and the other is about who they like. It's important to understand the difference between them. Knowing that both can change over time helps you support your teen as they grow and explore their feelings.


LGBTQ+ is the acronym referring to all gender identities, expressions, orientations and variations in sex characteristics that are not cisgender or heterosexual, or don’t fit within the male/female biological binary.

What Does Each Letter Stand For?

  • L stands for lesbian.
  • G stands for gay.
  • B stands for bisexual.
  • T stands for transgender.
  • Q stands for queer/questioning.
  • + represents any other gender identities, expressions, orientations and variations in sex characteristics that are not cisgender or heterosexual, or don’t fit within male/female biological binary.

Young people have a lot to think about. Exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity should be a positive experience.

The most important thing is that you take an open and non-judgmental approach.

Here are some ways you can support your child or young person.

It takes a lot of courage for a child or young person to talk about their sexuality or gender identity. Listening is a great way to show you care and help them feel accepted. Let them talk at their own pace, and ask open questions without interrupting. If they don’t want to keep talking, let them know you’re there for them whenever they're ready.

Educating yourself means taking the time to learn about LGBTQ+ issues, including your child's sexuality and gender identity. This can involve reading books, articles, and attending workshops or talking to experts.

By educating yourself, you can better understand your child's experiences and provide more supportive and informed care.

It’s important not to pressure or rush them into talking to you but you can help your child to talk about their feelings by following these steps:

  • Ask your child about their feelings. Look for behaviour or non-verbal signs (such as looking tearful) that suggest they may be struggling with an uncomfortable feeling e.g. It’s not like you to be so quiet.  Is anything bothering you?
  • When your child starts to tell you about their experiences or feelings, stop what you are doing and give them your full attention (so they know that you are interested in what they have to say). Talking about feelings can involve struggle to find the right words, so be extra patient.
  • Summarise and validate what your child has said about their feelings e.g. It sounds like you felt frustrated when your pro-noun wasn’t used / I can understand why you felt sad in that situation.  I think I’d feel sad too if I wasn’t invited out with my usual group of friends

Being patient and supportive means being understanding and accepting as your child figures out their sexuality and gender identity. It's about listening to them without judging, and letting them know you love them no matter what. Give them the space they need to explore and discover themselves, and offer encouragement along the way. Your support and patience can help them feel confident and accepted.

Respecting your child's privacy means giving them space to share about their sexuality and gender identity when they're ready. Avoid prying or discussing these matters with others without their permission. By respecting their privacy, you show them that you trust and support them, which strengthens your bond and helps them feel safe.

Respecting and using the names and pronouns your child or young person identifies with is a crucial step in supporting their gender identity. 

It demonstrates your support and validation. Using the correct names and pronouns helps them feel seen and respected, which can significantly boost their self-esteem and mental well-being. It also sets a positive example for others to follow, fostering an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. If you're unsure about their preferred names or pronouns, gently ask them and make an effort to remember and use them consistently. Mistakes may happen, but correcting yourself and showing a willingness to learn makes a big difference.

Pronouns are words used to refer to people without using their names. Common pronouns include:

  • "he/him"
  • "she/her" 
  • "they/them" 
  • Be proactive in ensuring your child’s school and community are supportive and inclusive.
  • Address any instances of bullying or discrimination promptly - speak to your child's school. 

Advocating for your child means standing up for them and ensuring they are treated with respect and fairness, especially regarding their sexuality or gender identity.

This involves speaking out against discrimination, supporting inclusive policies, and addressing any issues they may face at school or within the community.

By advocating for your child, you show them that you're on their side and will always fight for their rights and happiness.

Seeking professional support means reaching out to trained experts who can provide guidance and assistance for your child as they navigate their sexuality and gender identity.

This can include GPs, therapists, counsellors, and school support services. These professionals offer a safe space for your child to express themselves, address any mental or physical health concerns, and access resources and support groups.

Additionally, attending workshops and educational sessions can help you better understand your child's experiences and learn effective ways to support them at home and in their community.

Seeking professional help demonstrates your commitment to your child's well-being and ensures they receive the best possible care during their journey of self-discovery.

Resources in Sheffield

  • If you are a LGBTQ+ young person in Sheffield, then SAYiT is here for you. SAYiT provides support and social opportunities for LGBTQ+ young people in Sheffield, aged 8-25.
  • In addition to providing services for young people, SAYiT offers support and services to parents and carers of LGBTQ+ young people.