LGBTQ+ Students Share Advice for Holidays with Non-Affirming Family

To many, the holiday season is a joyous time to connect and celebrate with family and friends — but for LGBTQ+ youth, spending the holidays with family often means weeks of dread, fear, and isolation. Although schools can be a scary environment for queer students, some consider their school a safe space away from non-affirming or even unsafe home life. These students face the reality of spending the holidays with family members who are openly hateful and refuse to support their identity. Forget the typical holiday headaches like gift wrapping and cooking — some students are preparing to field vicious attacks from family members who think their very existence is offensive.

GLSEN recently asked members of our National Student Council to share their advice and words of encouragement to students ahead of the holiday break:

Ollie Sanders (they/them): “Even if you are not in a safe enough environment to establish boundaries, remember that you have no obligation to tolerate or be grateful for people who actively disparage your identity and choices, no matter if they're biologically related to you.”

Via Lipman (she/her): “The holiday break often is so hard because it feels like you have FOREVER at home with your family, without any outlet to express yourself and/or be with more affirming people. However, it will end eventually. Stay strong and you’ll get through it.”

Hafiza Khalique (she/her): “Holiday breaks can feel long and exhausting to LGBTQ+ students that do not have safe homes. It is helpful to be in community with others by looking for safe spaces around you, including nearby shops, organizations, other groups of people, or even friends!”

Dayley Katz (she/her): “Find a community, and if you can’t, make a community. There are people who love you, people who support you, people who need your company. You are important and you are loved. There are people who need your love and support as well.”

Mia Moeller (they/she): “The holiday season can be isolating just as much as it can bring people together. Remember this year, that you are loved, wanted, and worthy. In case you won’t hear this over the holidays: I am so proud of you.”

To students who are feeling anxious about the upcoming holidays: You matter, your identity matters, and I stand with you as you navigate a scary and difficult time. As we head into the holiday season, I hope we can all take some time to check in on those who may be feeling scared or overwhelmed by the idea of spending their break with non-affirming family members. LGBTQ+ youth continue to face an onslaught of anti-queer, anti-trans, and racist political attacks both in school and at home, and GLSEN remains committed to building power for our collective future — a future where all people, especially transgender and nonbinary people and LGBTQ+ people of color, feel safe and empowered.

By Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Executive Director of GLSEN