Psychologists at Harvard University published an article in early 2017 recommending five critical elements for raising healthy children. This article will highlight how business leaders and owners from the LGBTQ community can serve as role models and allies to the teenagers and young adults who begin their journey as out LGBTQ persons.
The five critical elements are as follows:
- Spend Quality Time with your Children
- Let Your Kids See a Strong Moral Role Model and Mentor in You
- Teach Your Children to Care for Others and Set High Ethical Expectations
- Encourage Children to Practice Appreciation and Gratitude
- Teach Children to See the Big Picture
The challenge for the “elders” in the LGBTQ community is to engage those newly out in activities that they enjoy, rather than just going out for drinks. Determine if the LGBTQ young adult would like to try out a social event, team, or organization along with you. Consider whether your business can expand to sponsor an internship or if you are willing to mentor a younger member of your industry on a weekly or twice monthly basis.
Outside of the workplace, be open to listening to her/his struggles with new relationships, and encourage them with insights about success stories of long-term LGBTQ couples you know of (or have been a part of). Introduce them to other close friends who share their interests. Consider ways to spend time with newly out LGBTQ persons that do not involve sexual activity; introduce them to other friends over meals, relaxed conversation, or social activities like bowling, going to the beach, visiting the Stonewall Museum, or volunteering together at an LGBTQ friendly non-profit organization. Take young adults on your fundraising journeys for the Smart Ride, Sun Serve, Breast Cancer Awareness, AIDS and walks for other medical conditions. Take a newly out LGBTQ person to volunteer at The Poverello Center or to another entity that provides meals to financially challenged persons, persons homebound with severe illnesses, and/or persons living on the streets.
Within the “alphabet soup” of LGBTQ, most of us represent one letter, but we serve as allies for the other letters in the LGBTQ community. Cisgender persons advocating for transgender rights and understanding continues to grow the trust and acceptance of our full community. Encourage newly out persons to follow safer sex guidelines and to be wary of drug abuse. Build close friendships with persons across the full LGBT spectrum as well as those LGBTQ persons from various race, faith, and national backgrounds. Befriending all colors of the rainbow sets lofty expectations for the young adults we mentor.
Our challenge as LGBTQ persons is to extend ourselves to advocate for other rights of all minorities, to welcome someone different into my circle of friends, and again, to encourage LGBTQ young adults to understand not only our community history, but to advocate for other minority groups seeking equality.
My hope is that the elements presented by the Harvard psychologists and the commentary about the applications to the LGBTQ community challenges you as a business owner, manager, parent, mentor, citizen, and human being to be your best self and to extend that best self to the younger members of our LGBTQ community.
Doug Nelson, LMHC has been licensed as a mental health professional for more than twenty years. Visit his website www.FTLCFIT.com for more information about his specialty areas.
Doug is a member of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Gay and Lesbian Business Exchange Council.
Note that the opinions expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily reflective of the GLBX or the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.