Supporting LGBTQ Youth through Family Engagement


Families play a critical role in a student’s social and emotional wellbeing as well as their academic performance. Research has shown that students whose parents are involved in their educational achievements are more likely to do better academically regardless of their parent’s education level, socioeconomic status, and ethnic or racial background. Additionally higher levels of school connectedness and family acceptance have been shown to reduce the behaviors associated with HIV and STI risk. Engaging families and parents of LGBTQ students could help reduce behavioral risks associated with HIV and STI. Below you’ll find strategies and resources to engage LGBTQ families – both LGBTQ identified students and non-LGBTQ students with LGBTQ family members.


Engaging families in a meaningful way goes beyond school events and parent-teacher conferences, family engagement requires parents, students, and staff to have clear expectations on how they are all involved in a student’s success in school. Connect, Engage, and Sustain is a CDC framework designed for school staff to encourage parental and family engagement in school health.

  • Provide multiple means of communication between schools and parents. Ask parents their preferred method of communication. Ensure families receive written communication in their home language.
  • Emphasize the important role families play in their child’s social wellbeing and academic achievement. Create buy-in by educating parents on how their involvement correlates to student outcomes, link community and family engagement to student outcomes.
  • Focus efforts on relationship building between community leaders and school district staff. Act as informational hubs for parents, educators, community partners, and volunteers. Hold events that celebrate the diversity of your school district.
  • Support parent and caregiver learning through workshops and classes around LGBTQ issues (I.e LGBTQ discrimination and bullying, protective factors for LGBTQ youth, coming out, laws and policies that protect LGBTQ students).
  • Collaborate with your district’s Office of Family and Community Engagement around district wide initiatives to engage parents. Make connections to local and online LGBTQ resources for families.
  • Cultivate Parental and Familial Leadership Pipeline – Identify and work with families who to want serve as leaders within programs or the larger community. Embrace partnerships and be open to sharing power with families. Encourage parents and caregivers to join sexual health advisory committees (SHACs), parent school community councils (PSCCs), and other decision-making groups.
  • Work with parents’ busy schedules, plan activities after rush hour traffic, make workshop classes available online via webinar or livestream, and schedule multiple time slots when needed.
  • Provide incentives to parent engagement activities with meals and childcare.
  • Build the capacity of your district/school by providing professional development opportunities around improving family involvement strategies.

Related Resources

External Links

This info sheet was created with support by the Cooperative Agreement CDCRFA-DP13-1308 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.