Demonstrating Respect in Conversations with LGBT2SQ Children and Youth

When children and youth are able to talk openly about their identities, service providers are better equipped to meet their needs. At all stages of involvement with the child welfare system (e.g., initial contact and assessment, ongoing service, and transitioning out of care), children and youth need to feel respected and engaged in issues that affect their care and well-being.

A child or youth may, with any person and at any time, disclose or discuss their identity/orientation and/or their experiences. As a result, all child protection workers, other staff and board members in child welfare agencies, caregivers, families, and volunteers should be well trained and ready to have these conversations in an informed and supportive manner.

It is important to remember that you may not know if a child or youth is LGBT2SQ, so all conversations should be respectful and encourage children and youth to feel safe and comfortable voluntarily sharing information about their identity.

LGBT Youth Line

Youth Line is an Ontario-wide LGBT2SQ peer support line. Youth Line offers confidential and non-judgmental peer support through telephone, text, and chat services.

For more information on LGBT Youth Line visit: http://www.youthline.ca


What are gender neutral pronouns?

Many people believe that there are only two sets of pronouns: she/her/hers or he/him/his. However, these pronouns do not reflect all gender identities (e.g. transgender and gender fluid). Other pronouns that may be used include:

  • They/them/theirs (singular)
  • Ze/Zie, Hir/Zir, Hirs/Zirs
  • Ey/Em/Eir

To avoid using the wrong pronouns, and potentially misgendering someone, ask them which pronouns they use to refer to themselves. If you are unable to ask someone about their pronouns, default to using their name and gender neutral language (example: this is Sally and they enjoy playing baseball).

Learn more about gender neutral pronouns and inclusive language through The 519, a community agency in Toronto: http://www.the519.org/education-training/


When the opportunity arises to have a one-to-one conversation with a child or youth about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

RESOURCE: Tips on having respectful conversations with LGBT2SQ children and youth