Every child deserves to live in a welcoming, loving world. However, LGBTQ+ youth are faced with many adversities today. I bet you’re wondering, “How can I make them feel welcomed and loved?” That’s where being an ally comes in.
To be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, we first must understand what it means to be an ally. An ally is someone who supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ people. Being a good ally means showing up for others through actions, awareness, and empathy. When it comes to being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
Educate Yourself About the LGBTQ+ Community
If you have children or other loved ones who are a part of the LGBTQ community, being supportive alone can have a positive impact on their mental health. Yet, it takes more than just support. Educating yourself goes a long way.
Taking time to learn about the issues and people of the LGBTQ community can help them because often they are forced to educate others about their identities and lived experiences. This can bear mental health burdens on LGBTQ+ youth as they feel responsible for other’s understanding of their community and adversities.
It’s okay if you’re not an expert on all things LGBTQ+. It takes time to learn and understand how to be an ally. In addition to committing yourself to learning about the issues and people of the LGBTQ community, you can start by listening without judgment, practicing empathy, and seeking resources from organizations that support the LGBTQ community.
Speak Up in Your Community
If we want our kids to be safe, we must speak up. The LGBTQ+ community often deals with hate speech or people using incorrect pronouns. Even seemingly casual comments, such as “that’s so gay”, or name-calling, can be devastating to LGBTQ+ people. These actions can create an environment of bias and prolong harmful stereotypes. Don’t tolerate hurtful speech or shameful comments. When we stay silent, we are only causing more harm. If you have the courage to stand up and be a voice for LGBTQ+ people, others around you may as well.
Speaking up for LGBTQ people isn’t just about reacting to negative comments from others. You can also spread positive messages that encourage those around you to think differently. Talking positively about LGBTQ+ people you know and sharing what you admire about them is inspiring to LGBTQ youth. When we speak positively about the LGBTQ+ community, we are actively supporting them.
Keep Up the Good Work
If you’re reading this, you have already taken the first steps of being an ally. Being an active ally is an ongoing journey, so it’s important to acknowledge there are always things to learn and ways to improve. You’re not alone; There are many people who are new to learning how to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. As adults, however, it is our job to keep children safe.
I encourage you to continue educating yourself on LBGTQ+ issues and people, speaking up for them, and continue striving to be a great ally. By being an advocate of LGBTQ+ people, you are leading by example.