What should you do when a child in your life comes out to you or you learn some other way that they may be lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, non-binary or otherwise “queer”? Let Dr. Caitlin Ryan, a social worker and director of SF State University’s Family Acceptance Project, fill you in.

Dr. Ryan has been working to promote the health and well-being of queer youth since the 1990s and co-founded the Family Acceptance Project in 2002 to help parents and families learn to support their LGBTQ kids.

“When we started that work, people didn’t believe that families, especially ‘diverse’ families, could learn to support their LGBTQ children,” Dr. Ryan tells Out in the Bay listeners. “The perception was they were all rejecting. That none of them could change. That they couldn’t grow. That they didn’t want to.”

But that perception was wrong. While many cultures and religions may be opposed to homosexuality or gender diversity, says Dr. Ryan, they also often endorse mercy, compassion, love, respect and the importance of family. By aligning these core values with their research, the Family Acceptance Projects helps parents focus on their behavior rather than their beliefs, so children and families benefit.

Hear more from Dr. Ryan on this week’s Out in the Bay as she speaks with producer Kendra Klang about health risks to queer youth when parents reject their identities, and how families can promote the well-being of their LGBTQ kids.

The Family Acceptance Project released its “research-based ‘Healthy Futures’ posters for American Indian families & communities to help parents, families and caregivers support LGBTQ / Two Spirit (LGBTQ-2S) children and youth to reduce health risks and increase well-being” on Oct. 27. The new posters join previous versions in 10 languages and come as national medical groups have declared an emergency for child and adolescent mental health. See the posters at https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/poster.

Please help us keep bringing queer air to your ears. Out in the Bay is an independent non-profit production. Your gift will help keep LGBTQ voices and stories coming to you and others who might not be able to give. (Donate tabs on our website will take you to a Media Alliance interface. Media Alliance is our non-proft 501(c)3 fiscal agent. Your gift will be earmarked for Out in the Bay.)

Caitlin Ryan is Director of the Family Acceptance Project,® a research, education, intervention and policy project to help ethnically, racially and religiously diverse families support their LGBTQ children. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker, researcher and educator who has worked on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health and mental health for more than 40 years and whose work has shaped policy and practice for LGBTQ and gender diverse children and youth. 

This week’s show was produced and hosted by Kendra Klang and edited by Porfirio Rangel.

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