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The LGBTQ community is notorious for many things, and one of them is generating resources and support through times of hardship and identity exploration. For parents who may not have had previous exposure to the diversity of people who fall within the rainbow umbrella, if their kid comes out to them as gender variant or queer, there can be a lot of questions.

That’s what happened to Susan and her family when her child came out as trans. She wanted to be on board and supportive of the transition, yet the overwhelming amount of information that populated during internet searches didn’t really set her mind at ease. It wasn’t until Susan discovered Resilience1220, formerly LeanIn1220, and the free therapy sessions they offer for youth and adolescents who are amid various life changes and stages of self-actualization, that she began to have a better understanding of how to lend support.

Through the transformation of her family and herself during the process of acceptance of her son and his identity, Susan knew she wanted to help other families who may be feeling now the way she once did. So, in partnership with LeanIn2020 and Evergreen High School, she has helped organize a panel discussion, Throw Out the Stigma, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. on November 23.

“The focus of the evening is more for educating the public, our youth, and to show support not only of the transgender individuals but to show support of families and parents,” Susan said. “If you can have a big impact on the families, that, in return, will have a big impact on their children.”

As part of a mental health awareness series, the focus of this particular talk will be stigma within the trans and gender-variant teenage demographic. The panel discussion will hold a space for a variety of voices speaking to the areas of transgender and nonbinary awareness and advocacy. Representative Brianna Titone, the first openly transgender policy maker in Colorado history, LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado, trans activist Christine Monks, and more will take the stage.

Conversation is where gaps in understanding appear, and education is truly where hearts and minds are changed. Through open and honest dialogue coupled with firsthand experience and immersion, the community of allies can grow tenfold. However, when this environment doesn’t thrive, that’s when rejection and resentment set in.

Related article: Saving Lives Through Education

“When people don’t understand something, they are very ignorant, and they say very hurtful things,” Susan emphasized. She admitted that while many parents may feel on board with the LGBTQ community in theory, it really is something that each family accepts differently, especially when a kid of their own comes out. “My heart is trying to help parents… you can be supportive and also grieve at the same time. You can move forward, embrace your children, and love them still.”

Ultimately, Susan would like to see this forum continue to grow and expand, uncovering the many facets of where misunderstandings and judgement lie. Through parent-to-parent mentorships and networks, she hopes that as more children come into their identities, foundational support systems can create safety for all.

“If you can have a big impact on the families, that, in return, will have a big impact on their children,” she said. “If this whole event was just to help one individual, it would be worth it.”