On this page
How can you support a family member who is LGBTIQ+?
We know that six in every ten LGBTIQ+ people in Australia have experienced family violence or abuse from family members (visit the Pride, Respect, Equality campaign page for more information). So, how can you support an LGBTIQ+ family member and ensure they know they are supported and respected? And, what should you do if another family member is being discriminatory or abusive towards your loved one?
Listen, learn, and ask what they need
If a loved one affirms their gender identity to you, or tells you about their sexuality, the first step is to actively listen without judgement. You may have lots of questions but try to remember that this may be difficult them – so it’s important to lead with respect. It’s also about supporting them in finding their place in LGBTIQ+ communities, which might help with their sexuality or gender identity. Letting your loved one know that you are available to listen and that you support them is a simple and important step to take. You might also like to ask them what they need, which could be anything from direct support to taking space.
Solidarity is powerful, and one of the best ways you can show your LGBTIQ+ family member that you stand with them is by doing the work and reading up on what it may mean for them to be LGBTIQ+. There are lots of fantastic resources out there to get you started.
We highly recommend this series of articles from our friends at Minus18 as a great starting point. To access more great resources, visit the Minus18 website.
Look: What to do if you think your child might be LGBTQIA+
Listen: What to do when your child comes out
Learn: How to educate when your child is LGBTQIA+
Love: How to support and celebrate your LGBTQIA+ child
How can you call out discrimination or abuse?
You may be showing support, respect, and love for your LGBTIQ+ family member, but that unfortunately doesn’t mean that everyone else in your family will do the same. It’s important to show solidarity and ensure that your loved one doesn’t face discrimination or abuse alone, and to do your best to prevent it when you can. Some people feel angry that their child or sibling has ‘changed’ when they are just becoming who they really are. If you witness, experience or are told about abuse or violence, it’s important to reach out to one of the support services listed below as soon as possible or encourage your LGBTIQ+ relative to do so. If someone is in immediate danger, you should always call Triple 000.
If you feel that it is safe to do so, you might ‘call out’ discrimination by:
- Letting your LGBTIQ+ family member know that you stand with them
- Showing support with small gestures – physically standing by your loved one at a family event, using their correct pronouns in family settings, sending resources to other family members
- Calling out discrimination with small gestures – an eye roll, refusing to laugh at a discriminatory ‘joke’, or
- Calling out discrimination with words – letting other family members or friends know that their words or actions are hurtful, outdated and not welcome. Depending on their reaction, you might then share resources with them to help them understand LGBTIQ+ identities.
While there is no one formula, the basics remain clear:
- Let your family member know that they are safe, supported and loved
- Do your research to learn about what it may mean to be LGBTIQ+
- Actively listen and ask questions to find out what your loved one needs
- Access support services when you need them or encourage your loved one to do so.
By making it known that rejection, discrimination, and abuse will not be tolerated, we can all do our bit to make sure our LGBTIQ+ family members feel safe, supported, and accepted.
Resources for family members
There are many resources available for family members and loved ones of LGBTIQ+ people, and for LGBTIQ+ people:
Check out The guide to words and definitions in the LGBTIQA+ community from Minus 18.
Check out the Interactive Pronoun Game from Minus18.
Watch What are pronouns? a video resource from Minus18.
Watch Explaining gender identity a video resource from Twenty10.
Watch Qlives: Real stories from community members a video resource from Qlife.
Trans, non-binary, and gender diverse resources
Visit the Zoe Belle Gender Collective website to access trans and gender diverse information resources.
Visit the Transgender Victoria website to access resources for trans people and their families.
Visit the Trans101 website to learn about gender identity and better understand what it means to be trans
Visit the TransHub website to access resources for carers and family members of trans people
Read the Trans and gender diverse parents' guide - a resource developed by Rainbow Families. Additional resources can be found on the Rainbow Families website.
Visit the Transcend website for information and resources designed to help parents/carers support their trans or gender diverse children
Visit the Transfamily website - a peer support group for parents, siblings, extended family and friends of a trans person.
Visit the Parents of Gender Diverse Children website for support, information and resources about parenting transgender and gender diverse children.
Visit the Say It Out Loud website to access helpful resources including:
Are you experiencing family violence (for LGBTIQ+ people)?
Friends and family toolkit – LGBTIQ+ family violence
Where can I go for support?
If you are experiencing or are at risk of family violence, reach out to the following services for support. If you are concerned about a loved one or would like advice on how to best support them, Rainbow Door and Safe Steps both take calls from family and friends of LGBTIQ+ people.
- Rainbow Door provides free specialist advice to LGBTIQ+ people and their friends and families. Rainbow Door is open 10am – 5pm, everyday and can be accessed via phonecall, text or email. Call 1800 729 367, SMS 0480 017 246, email: email@example.com or visit the Rainbow Door website.
- QLife is available to provide advice to LGBTIQ+ people from 3pm-12am (midnight) everyday, by phone 1800 184 527 and webchat. Visit the Qlife website.
- WithRespect provides support for LGBTIQ+ people of all ages and their families who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships, including with family violence. Call 1800 542 847 from Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm. You can also find resources, tips and advice on the WithRespect website.
- Drummond street services and Queerspace provide counselling, programs, support and referrals to LGBTIQ+ people and families in Victoria. Visit the drummond street services website or the Queerspace website for more information.
- Safe Steps is available 24/7 to support people in Victoria who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing family violence or abuse. Phone 188 015 188, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the Safe Steps website to use the webchat service.
- Thorne Harbour Health provide counselling and support to LGBTIQ+ community members experiencing family violence. Thorne Harbour Health is open Monday – Thursday 9am – 6pm and Friday 9am – 5pm free call 1800 134 840. Visit the Thorne Harbour Health website.
- 1800RESPECT is available 24/7 by phone or webchat with counsellors on deck to support people impacted by family violence, abuse or sexual assault. Visit the 1800Respect website.
If you are not living in Victoria and are seeking support, a state wide directory of services is available on the QLife website.
If you are concerned for your immediate safety or that of someone else, please contact the police in your state or territory or call Triple Zero (000) for emergency services.
To learn more about this campaign, visit the Pride, Respect, Equality campaign page.