FAQs for Parents/Carers

These FAQs were most recently updated in September 2021

These FAQs are in two sections:
1. About Allsorts and our Family Support Service
2. About being LGBT+ or exploring sexual orientation and/or gender identity

We'd also recommend having a look at Stonewall's LGBT+ Glossary for a wide range of LGBT+ terminology

About Allsorts

Who works at Allsorts Youth Project?
All of our staff and volunteers are LGBT+ and our trustees are made up of LGBT+ people, parents with LGBT+ children and LGBT+ allies from the wider community with a particular skill or expertise that benefits our project. Importantly, everyone that works or volunteers with our children and young people undergoes a Police check (DBS), receives regular training, including safeguarding training, and follows our safeguarding procedures at all times.

Why do LGBT+ and exploring children and young people, and their families, need a specialist service?
Unfortunately, there is overwhelming evidence that LGBT+ children and young people are more likely to be victims of bullying in educational settings, at home, and in their communities compared to their non-LGBT+ peers.  They are also more likely to experience mental health issues, unstable housing, substance misuse problems, and a lack of LGBT+ inclusive Relationship and Sex Education (RSE).  Our specialist support goes a long way to addressing these issues and improving the lives of LGBT+ children and young people. These issues, and many others, are explored within age-appropriate conversations, activities and workshops during our youth groups and one-to-one sessions. Allsorts believes in the importance of providing LGBT+ children and young people with an LGBT+ safer space, and positive role modelling from confident LGBT+ adults.   

Our approach is to work in collaboration with other services to enable our children and young people to engage with the wider community, and not just with LGBT+ specific services or organisations. For more information on the issues mentioned above, please follow the links below: 

Stonewall School’s Report, 2017
Albert Kennedy Trust
London Friend

What support can Allsorts offer to parents/carers and families?

Our Family Support Service, which started in 2013, is continuing to grow and develop in terms of the range of support we can offer.  Our primary focus is on connecting people with our growing community of parents/carers and families that are supporting an LGBT+ child or young person in their family.  We strongly believe in the power of peer support and we are here to facilitate that. 
 
Some people involved in this community have been involved for many years, and can provide you with valuable information, advice and peer support based on their lived experience. 

How do I get involved?
When a parent/carer gets in contact with us we set up an initial meeting (usually by video call) with our experienced Family Support Worker who will listen to your needs and then work out the best approach to supporting you and your family.

What is Allsorts approach to Family Support? 
What we do: It is our intention to provide an opportunity to: 

What we don't do:

To enquire about accessing our Family Support Service, please get in touch at: parents@allsortsyouth.org.uk 

Is Allsorts a mental health service and do you offer counselling?
Allsorts Youth Project is not a mental health service and we do not offer counselling or other clinical mental health interventions to children, young people, parents/carers of families.

We do provide short term one-to-one support where young people can explore their gender identity and/or sexual orientation as well as their social and emotional wellbeing with one of our experienced youth support workers.

Likewise, we can offer some support for parents/carers and families where they can explore issues relating to their child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and how best to support them. 

We always encourage young people to speak to their GP, access mainstream mental health teams, such as CAMHS (under 18s) or adult mental health services (18+), if they are experiencing emotional distress. 

Allsorts Youth Project is not a crisis service, but if you are a young person and you find yourself in crisis, please click here for a list of organisations that you can contact.  

About being LGBT+

What does LGBT+ mean?
LGBT+ is an initialism of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, and the ‘+’ (plus) covers the many other ways people might use to refer to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There are many variations of this initialism you may have heard of, such as LGBTQIA+.

Allsorts Youth Project uses ‘LGBT+ and exploring’ as it reflects the language used by the children, young people and families that are a part of our service. Many of the young people coming to Allsorts don’t identify with a specific word to describe their sexual orientation and/or gender identity because they haven’t found the right “fit” yet, or are simply exploring. If a young person is in that position, we believe it’s important for them to have access to a supportive space like Allsorts to hear about other people’s experiences, have yours heard, and feel free to explore your identity.

Of course, not everyone that is part of our diverse community uses language to describe their identity that features in the LGBT+ initialism, but we are absolutely inclusive of those identities. It is also important to know that many terms are commonly used as umbrella terms. For example, some people who are genderfluid, bi-gender or genderflux might also identify with non-binary as an umbrella term for someone who’s gender is neither male/man/boy or female/woman/girl.

Some people may choose not to use any particular label for their identity at all - there is no expectation to use labels here at Allsorts and we always follow the lead of our service users.

For young people that are heterosexual/straight and cisgender (meaning they are not lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, exploring or any other associated identity), you can find lots of youth groups, clubs and activities happening in Sussex that are inclusive of young people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I have heard lots of new and different ways that people describe their sexual orientation and gender identity - why is that?
Diversity and variance in gender identity and sexual orientation have existed in history and across the world for thousands of years.

LGBT+ identities are not a trend and are nothing new, even if the language and concepts we use to describe and understand LGBT+ identities has developed over time. For more information on LGBT+ experiences across history, please follow the links below to LGBT+ History month education packs made by our friends at The Proud Trust,

Manchester: 2017 Citizenship, PSHE and Law (page 10)

My child/young person has come out as LGBT+, or is exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, can you help me better understand what they are going through? 
Most likely, yes.  Our Family Support Worker can speak with you and provide an opportunity for you to ask questions about your child’s identity and find out more about different sexual orientations and gender identities. 

We work in a non-judgmental way and would never assume or expect that parents/carers have a lot of knowledge about these issues and this is what we are here to support you with. The questions you have are likely to be ones we have answered many times before and we do believe there is no such thing as a silly question or a question that you shouldn’t or can’t ask us.

People accessing our service have repeatedly told us that hearing about the experiences of other parents/carers has been particularly valuable in understanding their own child/young person’s identity, and how best to support them after they have come out as LGBT+ and we can connect you with other parents/carers.

My child is thinking of coming out as LGBT+, but is not quite sure how to do this, can you help?
Yes. Our youth support service offers a range of opportunities through groups and/or one-to-one support sessions for children and young people to discuss the process of coming out. Allsorts young people have also produced a great resource about coming out, which can be found on the ‘Resources’ page on our website

My child has come out as LGBT+.  Could this be just a phase? 
It could be. As children and young people grow and develop they can find themselves exploring all kinds of possibilities with their identities, and some things take their time to fully emerge and evolve. In the absence of certainty, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that your child/young person feels listened to, understood and accepted for who they are right now, and for how they understand their identity right now. Our advice is not to assume your child/young person is just going through a phase and that things will change, because very often this is not the case. 

What your child/young person will be acutely aware of is whether or not you, their family, their school, their friends and their community are supporting and accepting them and their identity, whatever that might be right now. If things do change for them, in terms of their identity, in the future all they will remember is the support and acceptance they got (or not) in that particular phase of their life. 

Allsorts young people often describe the experience of having the freedom to come out, and then to be accepted and supported for who they are, as being liberating. 

Allsorts have produced a range of resources and guides, by and for LGBT+ young people which can be found on our ‘Resources’ page on our website

Is my child/young person too young to be exploring or questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity?
If they are thinking about these things, and especially if they are worrying about these things, we believe it is important to give them space to talk about these things, regardless of their age. Everyone is different and people’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity can start to emerge and evolve at different ages and at different rates.  

We believe it is important that children and young people feel listened to and understood, and that there should not be an age limit for young people to explore who they are and have conversations about this with trusted adults.

Is it right to be discussing sexual orientation and gender with children and young people? Won’t that influence them?
Everything that we deliver at Allsorts (groups, one-to-one sessions, workshops etc.) is framed in an age and developmentally appropriate way. We believe it is important that children and young people feel listened to and understood, and that there should not be an age limit for young people to explore who they are and have conversations about this with trusted adults.  If they are thinking about these things, and especially if they are worrying about these things, we believe it is important to give them space to talk about these things, regardless of their age. 

At Allsorts, our staff and volunteers have no desire or motive to lead young people to question or explore their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. What we are here to do is support those children and young people who are already questioning and exploring these things. We want them to feel listened to, understood and to feel more at ease with their identity as it evolves, no matter if they end up being an LGBT+ adult or not.   

Our work is not limited to just supporting children and young people that are LGBT+. There is much evidence that shows LGBT+ children and young people are more vulnerable to bullying by their peers. In response to this, we facilitate LGBT+ awareness and inclusion workshops in schools, colleges and youth settings, to encourage more inclusive attitudes and behaviours in all young people. For more information on LGBT+ bullying in schools, click here to read Stonewall Schools Report, 2017.

What is a pronoun and why are they important?
A pronoun is a word in a sentence that takes the place of a noun. Examples of a pronoun are ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’.

Since pronouns are commonly understood to be gendered, they can be especially important to trans and non-binary people. It can be very uncomfortable to be referred to by the wrong pronoun and can be experienced as a challenge to a person’s gender identity, no matter if they are trans or not.

If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun for someone, correcting yourself and moving on with the conversation is generally the best thing to do - mistakes can happen! If you aren’t sure what pronoun to use for someone, it’s okay to ask, but think about whether you should ask in private or not. If in doubt, use their name until you can check with the person what language is best for you to use.

Does my child being LGBT+ mean that they won’t be able to have their own children and a family in the future?
No. There are many different ways to have children and start a family as an LGBT+ person, these might include fostering, adoption or IVF, and the numbers of LGBT+ people doing this continues to increase as our society and attitudes have changed.

The Different Families, Same Love campaign by Stonewall is an excellent example of teaching children about various home dynamics.  

Does my child being LGBT+ mean that they can’t practice their faith?
Every person’s relationship with their faith and beliefs is their own and members of the Allsorts community represent many different viewpoints, and celebrating this diversity is a core value of our service.

If you are interested in learning more from our young people and community regarding faith, please take a look at our Allsorts of Faith resource.

Stonewall has also produced a guide for tackling homophobia in faith schools which you can view here.  

What support do you offer schools and colleges?
Allsorts delivers LGBT+ Awareness and Inclusion workshops for students and training for staff. We also provide support, information, advice and guidance to staff in schools and colleges.  

Our training and workshops come with a fee, but it is worth noting that any profits go back into funding our project and services.

For more information about what we can offer, visit our Training & Education page. To view and download our LGBT inclusion resources, visit our Toolkits, Booklets and Guides page.

How can I help Allsorts?
As a busy and dynamic charity that supports hundreds of LGBT+ children, young people and families, we are grateful to those who want to contribute to our vision of a world where LGBT+ children and young people are free to thrive.

There’s lots of ways to contribute to Allsorts Youth Project. To find out more, please visit our Fundraising Page.  

If you would like to support Allsorts with a regular donation and keep updated on how you are supporting LGBT+ children, young people and their families across Sussex, you can become a Friend of Allsorts here.

If you are a parent/carer, interested in accessing Allsorts’ services and have any questions that have not been answered here, you can get in touch with us at parents@allsortsyouth.org.uk, and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Allsorts Youth Project Ltd © is registered charity in England & Wales and regulated by the Charity Commission under number 1123014 and a Company Limited by Guarantee under number 04154118. Registered office address: 69 Ship Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1AE.