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Promoting the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people

Social support and inclusive environments are the most important protective factors against the harmful effects of discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people. More specifically, the support of parents contributes to lowering the negative impacts of homophobia and transphobia on youth.

However, after coming out, some youth will be verbally and psychologically abused by their parents. In that case, the support of their friends and other adults in their social circle can be very useful to them.

Examine perceptions and shed prejudices

To support LGBTQ+ people, it is important to recognize and shed certain preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Here are a few of those myths.

Reality: The images of the effeminate gay man and masculine lesbian are common stereotypes. However, as identities and orientations are varied, gender expression does not define a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, we cannot rely on appearances.

Reality: This myth stems from the search for causes. For example, the idea that a past event, a childhood experience, such as an assault, could disrupt the “normal” (referring to heterosexual or cisgender) development of an LGBTQ+ person. The search for causes also involves associating sexual diversity with an innate or acquired condition. However, the cause is not important. Sexual and gender diversity are not an illness. LGBTQ+ people do not need treatment for their identity. To that effect, on December 9, 2020, the government of Québec adopted the Act to protect persons from conversion therapy provided to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Reality: The LGBTQ+ community are wrongly believed to have very frequent sexual relations, a multitude of partners, “abnormal” (even “amoral”) sexual practices, an absent affective dimension, a life focused solely on sexual desires, high promiscuity, an ease with having sexual relations with any partner, etc. These perceptions are erroneous: gender identity and sexual orientation are not associated with certain defined sexual behaviours.

Reality: Some people are comfortable with keeping their emotional and romantic life “in the dark” or private, while others want to show it proudly. Sometimes people are more comfortable with hiding that part of their life or delaying their coming out. Other times, they do this to protect themselves from judgement and discrimination. While these strategies for coming out and these motivations are different, one is not more right than another. The important thing is to create an inclusive environment in which LGBTQ+ people will feel safe revealing or not revealing this aspect of themselves.

Reality: There has always been sexual and gender diversity, including homosexual, bisexual and trans people. These people simply could not reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past because they were not culturally accepted and were often considered criminals. Thus, sexual and gender diversity is not a fashion, but simply more widely accepted these days.

Reality: We should not jump to the conclusion that LGBTQ+ people are experiencing psychological problems. Some people with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual or a gender identity outside the male-female binary may have profound difficulty with accepting it and may grieve their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, others may have a positive experience and not have any particular problems.

Moreover, being an LGBTQ+ person is not a problem in and of itself. Rather, it is the isolation, stigmatization, discrimination, homophobia or transphobia that can be difficult and require professional help.

Reality: For a lot of people, bisexuality is their sexual orientation. For others, they may be in a phase of questioning their sexual orientation. When people say they are bisexual, there is no point in asking whether it is a phase or not; the important thing is to simply believe and respect them.

Reality: The fact that a person adopts behaviours, an appearance or social roles that do not correspond with the gender stereotypes associated with the sex assigned at birth does not automatically mean that the person is homosexual. The person could have any sexual orientation, including heterosexual.

Reality: LGBTQ+ parents are just as good as heterosexual parents. Many studies have demonstrated this and no studies have proven that LGBTQ+ people should not have children. Moreover, various research has shown that LGBTQ+ couples complement each other just as well as heterosexual couples in sharing tasks and childcare. Children do not suffer from having parents from communities with sexual and gender diversity.

This web page is an adaptation of the Guide d’intervention psychosociale ponctuelle - Diversités sexuelles et pluralité de genre created by the CIUSSS du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Centre de recherche appliquée en intervention psychosociale (CRAIP). We thank CRAIP for its permission to use this material.

Last update: April 4, 2022

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