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Supporting Kansas City's LGBTQ involves education not assumption

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As more people identify as LGBTQ, the chance that someone you know will come out to you is more likely. What you can do to be supportive and inclusive.

The number of people in the United States who identify as LGBTQ is rising, and according to a Gallup survey "one in five Gen Z members" identifies as other than heterosexual.

The decision to come out as LGBTQ can depend on the support and reaction a person anticipates receiving from family, friends, community members and employers.

Gabi Boeger, a therapist at Resolve Counseling and Wellness helps LGBT and family members navigate the challenges and concerns they may face on the journey to acceptance and living openly.

"Education is a large part of what I do...particularly with parents," Boeger said.

Lisa Wright was accepting but caught off guard when her child came out as lesbian.

"I was so supportive of my child, but there were questions that I was embarrassed to ask my child," Wright said.

Wright turned to PFLAG Kansas City for education, and is currently the chapter president.

Being mindful of the language used is one tip to support LGBT community members. Assumptions should not be made about a person's identity, attraction or pronouns. Without clarification, Boeger suggests using neutral terms.

Not being accepted can cause an increase in mental health issues.

Boeger suggests both LGBT members and parents or caregivers find resources to help educate and navigate the journey, suggesting PFLAG, Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project and LGBTQ affirmative therapists.

"I try to remind parents, you don't have to understand everything that your child is going through, but how can we create at least a safe environment where you can validate and have active listening and practice empathy, and support for that child," Boeger said.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Eleanor Nash is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date. You can reach her at enash@kcur.org
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz