Positive parental and familial relationships are crucial for all youth. For LGBTQ+ youth in particular, families can play a critical role in reducing risks and promoting well-being.
Since youth can express a clear sense of gender identity at various ages, there is greater awareness among some families that an adolescent might be transgender. As a result, more parents are seeking accurate information about gender development and sources of support. 
The Out Youth Family Circle of Support aims to give parents and caregivers of trans-identified youth a forum for sharing, support and education. Family members gather on Sunday evenings for six weeks to discuss their hopes and concerns, and to receive psycho-education related to gender identity.
The Family Circle of Support is facilitated by mental health clinicians with experience in family therapy in the context of the LGBTQ+ community. Jessica Fish, co-facilitator of the group this Fall, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.
“It's amazing to see how dedicated these parents are to showing support and affirmation for their youth," said Jessica, a facilitator for the Circle of Support. “Some of the most meaningful moments as a facilitator is seeing how parents, grandparents and other family members grow in their time during group and how they come to better understand and support their youth through that process. We talk a lot about how to be supportive of our youth by affirming their identities, and letting explore who they are at a very important time in their lives.”
“What I found most helpful was to hear the stories of other families and where they were in their journey,” said Pat, a parent who recently attended a Circle of Support meeting. “To hear parents that seemed to be further along in their journey than myself and get their feedback on how they dealt with their child coming out as transgender. Although my child has only been out to me since March of this year, I feel I have come a long way with not only that but with all that a parent of a transgender youth has to go through.”
In addition to the Family Circle of Support, Out Youth is implementing innovative ways to connect with the families of the youth we serve.
In December, Out Youth plans to host a panel consisting of parents of transgender youth as well as a local medical provider who specializes in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for transgender clients. This combination of personal experience and professional expertise aims to help parents and guardians feel less alone and leave better informed, so they can best support their child.
The next round of the Family Circle of Support group will start in January of 2017.
For more information about the Family Circle of Support or clinical services at Out Youth, please contact Sarah Kapostasy, Clinical Director, at email@example.com.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children. HHS Publication No. PEP14-LGBTKIDS. Rockville, MD: 201