Family Support Project

American research has found that the slightest shift in parental attitudes towards greater acceptance of their children who are LGBT has shown a reduction in their mental ill-health, substance misuse and risky sexual practices.

Our own research at GALYIC has found that as young people are coming out younger - the average age is now 14 years - and with high levels of homophobic bullying in schools, the need for parental acceptance and support has never been greater.

Many of our members have the love and acceptance of their parents but 30% have experienced significant homophobic emotional abuse in their home - either from parents or step-parents or siblings or other family members or family friends.

In response to this we have joined forces with the Maze Project from Calderdale & Kirklees WomenCentre to develop the Family Support Project.

The Maze Project works with women who are affected by domestic violence, their partners and their children. The staff are used to working sensitively to help resolve domestic violence with women who do not access other mainstream services.

Because of this they are ideally placed to work with GALYIC to support families who have issues with their children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

GALYIC provided awareness training for the Maze staff team. This included the general awareness training programme which can be accessed on line by clicking here as well as a presentation on relevant data from 20 recently completed needs assessments; you can access this here.

GALYIC members had already discussed the possible new project at a Youth Council meeting and then met with Maze staff to talk through procedures. Members agreed the project had great possibilities.

We are anticipating that most referrals for the Family Support Project will come from young people who are already members of GALYIC.

Once a young person feels comfortable at GALYIC our Crisis Intervention Worker conducts a comprehensive Needs Assessment which includes questions about sexual, physical and emotional abuse both within families and relationships. The worker and young person then agrees an action plan.

Should homophobic family abuse be identified as an issue, the worker will offer a referral to the Family Support Project.

GALYIC will then continue to support the young person whilst the Maze Project will support their family. The objective is to provide support to enable the family to accept and support their children for who they are.

We are hoping to set up a Calderdale/Kirklees FFLAG (Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) so that family members accessing the Family Support Project can graduate to FFLAG where they will be able to gain support from other families who have children who are LGBT.

It is possible that other agencies such as Social Services and Housing Services might also want to refer young people and their families. In these circumstances it is important to understand that this is a partnership project and that both the young person as well as the family will be supported: GALYIC will support the young person whilst the Maze team will support the family.

We have produced an initial introduction to the Family Support Project which young people can give to their parents, click here to access this.

A flyer about the project, which also identifies facts that parents should be aware of, as well as a list of things members would like to say to their parents, can be accessed by clicking here. This is a useful tool to identify issues parents may need to discuss.