At Sundance Canyon Academy, we work with a lot of families who need help supporting their LGBTQ teens. We are writing on this topic to provide tips for parents who want to support their kids and help them make friends.
The teen and tween years are an awkward age for almost everyone. Kids start to become more aware of their surroundings and feel like they are on stage all the time. They want to make friends, but they’re worried about being judged. When they are judged, it can be pretty hard. Middle schoolers are known for being ruthless when it comes to tearing down their peers.
For LQBTQ boys, the middle school years can be especially tough. As puberty hits and their hormones kick in, they don’t always fit in with the other boys. They might not have the same hobbies as their peers, and they certainly don’t have the same sexual attractions as heterosexual boys. This can make them stand out as being “different” from their peers.
Unfortunately for most middle schoolers, being noticeably different from your classmates can make you the target of bullying. Many LGBTQ teens and tweens are the victims of verbal abuse or physical harassment during their middle school and high school years. This can make it difficult, if not impossible, to make friends at school.
Since it can be tough to make friends at school, it’s vitally important for you to help your LGBTQ son find friends somewhere.
Helping your LGBTQ son find friends
During childhood and adolescence, kids tend to be stuck finding friends at school. They either make friends with the other kids in their class or join a team or club and make friends there. If they don’t get along with the other kids at school, it’s tough to find a new group of kids on their own.
If your LGBTQ son is having a hard time making friends on his own, you can step in to help. Much like making friends as an adult, this usually means going out to a new location and meeting new people. If your son doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, you would need to help him find the best locations and give him a ride.
When you’re looking for suitable locations for your LGBTQ son to make new friends, there are a few things to consider.
As with all extracurricular activities, you want your son to go to a safe environment. There need to be responsible adults present to oversee the activities and ensure the kids’ safety.
Look for an environment that is accepting of LGBTQ youth. Many community organizations and nonprofits will specify that they are open and inclusive to everyone in their mission statement. If your son is going to make friends, he needs to be in a place that will accept him as he is.
Your son is still a kid, so he needs something fun to do. If the activity is boring, he won’t be into it. If he’s not into it, he won’t make friends there. Get your son’s opinion on what sort of activities he might like, then explore local options.
Depending on where you live, there could be several local options for inclusive and fun activities for adolescents.
Look for things like:
After school clubs
Sports teams (competitive or noncompetitive)
Creative arts groups
Gaming groups (board games or video games)
If your son is struggling to make friends and you don’t have many alternatives to school, you may need to look outside of your area. It can be tough for kids in a small town to make new friends if they already know all of the kids their age. This might mean driving to another town or city for the activities, or it might mean enacting a bigger change.
LGBTQ teens and tweens who have been the victim of bullying may need additional help in gaining self-confidence to try and make friends again. When their peers or other adults have mistreated them just for being “different,” they can struggle with low self-worth. If this describes your son, he might benefit from attending a residential therapeutic boarding school.
Call us at 866-224-2733 to determine if our school can help your son.