What should you do when your child comes out to you, or you learn some other way that your child may be lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, non-binary or otherwise “queer”? Meet Dr. Caitlin Ryan, a social worker and the Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

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 findings, the Family Acceptance Projects helps parents to focus on their behavior, rather than their beliefs, so children and their families benefit.

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

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