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issues and community resources and a support group session where parents, LGBTQ individuals and allies can share experiences and learn from each other.

“When it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation, people vary in their knowledge and things are changing all the time, so people come to meetings with every possible perspective when it comes to familiarity and comfort levels,” said PFLAG Central Kentucky President Linda Angelo. “But the bottom line, wherever you are starting from, is that the child who ‘came out’ today is the same child you loved yesterday, and they need your love and support now more than ever.”

Many people are at least aware of lesbian and gay issues but may be confused by transgender, bisexual, queer/questioning, gender fluid and the wide spectrum of new terms. PFLAG can help not only in beginning to understand these issues but also recognizing others are struggling with the same issues as your family or loved one.

“In some ways we don’t like to label,” said a teen who spoke to a PFLAG meeting. “But when you discover there is actually a word that describes what you are, it is comforting because it lets you know that you are not alone.”

A PFLAG Central Kentucky parent said, “We understood – or at least thought we did – gay and lesbian. Transgender we were not ready for. Even though we were supportive from the beginning, it was difficult to get our heads around.” He credited PFLAG with helping him and his wife understand their newly out child’s orientation and also validating that some of their feelings of confusion and loss were perfectly normal.

“PFLAG was there for us when we really needed them,” he said. “We will be there for others, too.”

You can contact PFLAG Central Kentucky through its Web site, www.pflagcentralky.org, or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PFLAG-Central-Kentucky. You are welcome to attend one of our next meetings: Feb. 14 in Lexington at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 2025 Bellefonte Drive, or Feb. 20 in Frankfort at the Unitarian Universalist Community, 316 Wilkinson Boulevard.

The facts are frightening. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adolescents are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying, depression and homelessness; to engage in alcohol use and unsafe sex; and to attempt suicide.

The facts are also encouraging. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports parental responses to LGBT adolescents can have a tremendous impact on the child’s current and future mental and physical health. Supportive reactions can help adolescents cope and thrive. Indeed, emerging research shows LGBTQ persons with supportive families are no more likely to have psychological or behavioral problems than their age group as a whole.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines what it calls a strength-based approach: “Addressing LGBT-related stigma, discrimination and violence; building on the strengths of LGBT youth; and fostering supports such as family acceptance and safe, affirming environments in schools and other settings will help improve outcomes for LGBT young people.”

Following these recommendations to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of young people who do not fit the traditional heterosexual mold is simple – but not easy. It’s simple in that it is clear that support



Jonathan Phillips is a Staff Writer for Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Jonathan phillips

 from parents, families, friends and institutions such as schools improves outcomes and reduces risks. But institutional and cultural change is not straightforward, and even for families, it is not always evident how to provide that support nor even how to respond when a child “comes out.”

That’s where PFLAG comes in. PFLAG is a support group for LGBTQ persons, their families and allies, with an emphasis on helping parents and families understand and come to terms with LGBTQ issues in our culture and in their families. The goal is to enable them to provide the support needed to ensure the health and safety of LGBTQ youth.

The PFLAG acronym stems from the organization’s founding in 1972 as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Its reach has since expanded to the broader community of LGBTQ persons and their loved ones and supporters. PFLAG Central Kentucky holds meetings in both Lexington and Frankfort, connecting people with resources and offering support from others who have been through similar experiences. PFLAG meetings are completely confidential. They include an information portion where attendees can increase their knowledge about LGBTQ