Supporting Families who are Struggling with their Child’s Identity

Research indicates that family acceptance or rejection plays a critical role in influencing the health, mental health, and wellbeing of all children and youth.65 Some research suggests that LGBT2SQ children and youth may be over-represented in the child welfare system because they have been rejected or abused by their families due to their LGBT2SQ identity.66 The objective for societies in all child protection cases is to continually work with the child’s family and extended family or community towards establishing a stable, safe, and permanent home for the child.

The 519

The 519, a Toronto-based community centre, runs LGBT2SQ-positive programs for youth including a Newcomer Youth Mentorship program for those new to Canada, a Trans Youth Sports drop-in program, a Body Love movement workshop, and an Animation Movie Camp called Animating!

For more information, visit:

Family acceptance helps:

  • protect against depression, suicidal behaviour, and substance use;
  • promote self-esteem, social support, and overall health; and
  • support and strengthen the relationship between family and child.

Families who are struggling to accept their child or youth’s sexual and/or gender identity may need support from child welfare professionals to change their behaviours if those behaviours have resulted in the child or youth suffering harm or being exposed to a risk of harm within the meaning of child welfare legislation. In some cases, it may be necessary to bring a child or youth to a place of safety while parents or caregivers learn how to better support their LGBT2SQ children and youth. Research demonstrates that rejecting families can become much more accepting if they receive support and accurate information to understand, accept, and connect with their child.67

Child protection workers can support families and caregivers who struggle with their child or youth’s identity by doing the following:68

RESOURCES: Support for families struggling to accept their child or youth's identity

A Practitioner's Resource Guide: Helping Families Support Their LGBT Children

PFLAG Canada: a national charitable organization, founded by parents who wished to help themselves and their family members understand and accept their non-heterosexual children

A list of PFLAG chapters across Ontario can be accessed at:

LGBT Family Coalition

Many families struggle in isolation to understand their child or youth's identity, unaware of community resources that can help. Providing appropriate support and resources can repair or strengthen a family's relationship with their child or youth and help them gain understanding, shift perspectives, change behaviours, and become allies.

vii PFLAG helps individuals with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. PFLAG Canada supports, educates and provides resources to anyone with questions or concerns about family member gender expression, gender identity and/or sexual orientation. More information is available at: