LGBTQ+ Center presents ‘ So Your Kid Came Out as LGBTQ+ Now What?’ panel

Annalexis Davis, Reporter

Emmett Drugan and Sandy Varndell shared their experiences and advice to parents at “So Your Kid Came Out as LGBTQ+, Now What?,” a virtual event hosted by Director of LGBTQ+ Center Ken Ditlevson Tuesday.

Emmett Drugan is a Mental Health Counselor at Navigate Counseling and Consultation Services. He has a Master of Education in Counseling and specializes in assisting transgender individuals and families.

Drugan shared his own experience and how his relationship with his mother changed after coming out to her. Drugan said she didn’t understand for almost thirteen-plus years. She thought he was ruining his body and her life.

“I arranged a meeting in my therapist’s office with my mom. We ensured that nothing was going to be thrown in the room, and everything was clear that we had prepared,” he said. “My mom was already hostile, and she came in as she was ready for a fight.”

Drugan also touched on the parents’ side of having a transgender child.

“With trans people, they’ve been thinking about their gender, some of us, for our entire lives that we can remember,” he said. “So, when we are bringing our parents on board, they go through a grieving process. Not of us as a person we have not died but of the hopes and dreams and their idea of who we are has shifted, and we need to give that time.”

Varnell, a social worker, opened a group called Out Support. Out Support is an LGBTQ+ support group. Varnell is a mother of two kids who are transgender and bisexual.

“When you’re an ally parent, you also often have to come out in different ways to different people in your world, not just your family,” she said. “So I worked at our local Senior Center, and my lovely colleagues would ask how the girls were. It took me a year. I would say, ‘Oh, they’re fine,’ and in my head, I would just be exploding because I wanted to say, ‘Here’s the thing,’ but they were all quite conservative.”

Drugan and Varndell shared a list of resources and support groups for parents. It included resources such as PFLAG (Parents, Families, Lesbians and Gays), Margie’s Hope, Out Support and Colors Plus Youth Center. Drugan also said having an affirming transgender counselor is helpful.

Annalexis Davis is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].