How to Support LGBTQ Youth

Young people are significantly impacted by the way their family and community members respond to their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ programs for youth are one way to provide the support these young people need, but there are also ways to be there for LGBTQ youth in your everyday life.

A study by the Human Rights Campaign found that 67% of LGBTQ youth have heard their family members, teachers, and other important adults make negative comments about members of the LGBTQ community. 

Not making negative comments about LGBTQ people — even if you’re not aware of LGBTQ individuals around you — is a start. Making positive comments about how good it is when people can be true to themselves or expressing your admiration for a public member of the LGBTQ community is even better.

Supporting LGBTQ affirmative therapy is a big step in the right direction. LGBTQ programs for youth provide spaces where young people can get the support they need from peers and mental health professionals. 

Statistics on LGBTQ Youth

Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey shows that in the U.S., approximately 9.5% of all youth ages 13-17 identify as LGBTQ+. Nearly 34% of LGBTQ youth report being bullied on school property, and 28% have been victims of cyberbullying. LGBTQ youth are more likely to be threatened with a weapon and experience dating violence than their heterosexual and cis-gendered peers.

The impact of violence, threats of violence, and rejection is an important component in the mental health of LGBTQ youth. Therapy for LGBTQ adolescents and teens addresses the unique needs of these young people.

We Understand LGBTQ+ Teens

At Evolve, we offer a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens who need professional support and care for mental health, behavioral, and alcohol or drug addiction disorders.

We know LGBTQ+ teens often navigate a judgmental, negative, and unforgiving environment. Sometimes this less-than-ideal environment is at school, sometimes it’s out in the world, and sometimes it’s at home. It’s hard to predict where an LGBTQ+ teen will find acceptance and where they’ll find the opposite.

Adolescence is hard enough – but these attitudes make it even harder for teens who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why we prioritize creating the safe, warm, supportive, and understanding atmosphere that many LGBTQ+ teens need to feel loved, seen, and heard. Of course, we can’t say we know exactly what every LGBTQ+ teen needs or is going through, since we haven’t met them all. We do know a lot of LGBTQ+ teens, though, because they thrive in our programs and seek treatment here for one simple reason: we understand what they need.

First, they need acceptance.

By that we mean unconditional acceptance of who they are. At Evolve, we accept, with no reservation and no hesitation – that they are who they say they are. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid, questioning/questing – it doesn’t matter. We hear them, and we believe them.

The second thing they need is respect.

By that we also mean unconditional respect for who they are, their process, and what they say they need to feel whole. If a teen tells us they’re non-binary and their pronoun(s) are they/them, then we believe them, accept them, and we use the name and pronoun(s) they ask us to use.

The third thing they need is understanding.

By that we mean we understand the issues that are important to and affect LGBTQ+ teens.

We also understand what transitioning and searching and seeking mean. If a transitioning teen enters a residential treatment program at Evolve, we can adjust based on where they are in transition. And if where they are changes while they’re with us, then we adapt and adjust: this also means we understand teens who are gender fluid, and we’re not scared at all by the concept of gender fluidity.

Issues LGBTQ Teens Face

We now want to speak directly to teens who identify as LGBTQ+. We know the dominant heteronormative paradigm is firmly entrenched in our culture. We understand that some days it may feel like an uphill battle just to be you.

We understand you may experience:


If you come out as queer, non-binary, lesbian, gay, or transgender, people in your life may treat you differently than individuals in the gender and sexual majority.

Social Isolation

Your sexual and gender identity might cause you to withdraw from friends, family, and some social situations. Or it’s possible your friends, family, and people in social situations may exclude you because of who you are now, as opposed to who you were before you came out. Therefore, you may no longer identify with the friends, hobbies, and activities you did only a couple of months ago. We help you discover who you are now, and help you create a family, academic, and social life that matches your identity.


Being in the sexual or gender minority increases your risk of physical, verbal, and/or online bullying and abuse from peers, teachers, family members, and even strangers on the street.

At Evolve, none of that happens: we love, embrace, and celebrate who you are, period.

Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Among LGBTQ+ Teens

We understand the challenges we describe above have personal, psychological, and emotional consequences. The attitudes of others can impact your sense of self, your confidence, and your self-esteem. We understand that the pressures of managing a stigmatized identity can lead to an increased risk of:

Mental Health and Emotional Disorders

LGBTQ+ individuals are three times more likely to develop major depression and/or generalized anxiety disorder than their gender/sexual majority peers.

Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders (AUD/SUD)

LGBTQ+ individuals develop substance use disorders at roughly twice the rate as individuals in the gender/sexual majority. LGBTQ+ individuals develop alcohol use disorders at roughly three times the rate as their gender/sexual majority peers.

Suicidal Behavior

Lack of family and peer support combined with harassment and typical adolescent issues make LGBTQ+ teens more likely to take their own lives. Statistic show that suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ + teens, and that LGBTQ + youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than gender/sexual majority peers. In addition, teens in the process of questioning their sexual identity are three times more likely to engage in suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors than gender/sexual majority peers, and roughly half of transgender teens engage in suicidal ideation.

We know all these things, and we want you to know we know them. We also want you to know this:

If you’re an LGBTQ+ teen, we see you, we hear you, we get you, and we love you.

If you want help with a mental health disorder, a behavioral disorder, or addiction, we’re here for you no matter what.

What Can Parents of LGBTQ Youth Do to Help?

To start, don’t be afraid to ask questions like “What does label mean in LGBTQ discussions?”  Knowing that you care enough to understand topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation will help your child feel more comfortable coming to you when they experience problems.

If your child is exhibiting signs of anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder, find an LGBTQ affirming therapist to help them. 

What Is LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy?

LGBT affirming therapy is defined as therapy that acknowledges a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation without judgment. A therapist works with their patient to build a better sense of self while addressing their needs as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

LGBTQ programs for youth may provide resources and a supportive network that may not be otherwise available to a young person. 

How LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy Works

LGBTQ+ affirming therapy works the same way as traditional therapy, but with an emphasis on the issues facing young LGBTQ+ people today. Providing a safe space where young people can speak freely about dating, coming out, or the trauma they have experienced as members of the LGBTQ+ community is paramount. 

LGBTQ+ Responsive Treatment Helps Teens

Research shows that targeted, culturally informed, evidence-based treatment for mental health, behavioral, and addiction disorders administered in inclusive, non-judgmental milieu help LGBTQ+ teens develop the practical skills they need to live a full and vibrant life in the identity they claim and as the person they are.

That describes Evolve perfectly: that’s who we are and what we do. We welcome LGBTQ+ teens with open arms and we honor their strength and courage.

We know being a queer kid in the world today is not always easy, and we’re here to help.

If you’re the parent of an LGBTQ+ teen, it’s important to understand that one crucial thing almost all LGBTQ+ teens say they need is a safe place to be themselves. To understand what they mean by that, please read any of the articles we link to above or read this Trevor Project Survey. Our extensive experience with the teen LGBTQ+ community confirms everything that survey says, which we also elaborate on in our LGBTQ+-focused articles.

On one level, LGBTQ+ teens need exactly what all teens need, which is to be seen, heard, and loved for who they are by the people that matter most to them. On another level, LGBTQ+ teens need to be seen and heard by people who will not judge them, but rather, embrace them. In terms of treatment for mental health and/or addiction problems, this means treatment is most effective when psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists recognize that living out means they’re strong, brave, and resilient.

That’s our starting point: fundamental recognition of what it takes to handle the struggles they face every day. We help LGBTQ+ teens connect to the inner strength we know is there and teach them how to apply that innate strength to overcome any obstacle in their path, which includes mental health, behavioral, and/or alcohol/drug use disorders. Our goal is to help get them back to what’s most important: learning, growing, and changing from teenagers to adults, in their own way, on their own time, living the identity that helps them be the best possible version of themselves.

Who Can Benefit from Our LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy Program?

Any teen who identifies as LGBTQ+ and is struggling with issues that are endangering their mental health can benefit from LGBTQ+ affirming therapy. 

Is LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy Right for My Teen?

Therapy for LGBTQ+ teens is recommended for children who already identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Get Help Today with Our LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy for Teens

Whether your teen would benefit most from a long-term adolescent residential treatment, group therapy, or family therapy, LGBTQ+ affirming therapy from our experienced, well-trained professionals can help. Contact Evolve Treatment Centers today to learn more.