Parents & Family
We welcome parents and families of LGBTQ students to our RISD campus community! ISE is committed to maintaining a safe, supportive and affirming campus community for your student to not only enjoy their RISD experience, but also thrive both socially and academically. Parents and families of prospective students are invited to meet our office staff and tour our office during business hours. Depending on student availability, we also may be able to arrange a lunch date with current students who are members of the Queer Student Alliance (QSA). To arrange a tour/meeting, please consider contacting us to make an appointment to ensure staff availability.
If you are a parent/guardian and/or family member, you are welcome and encouraged to contact a member of our staff with any questions or concerns. If your student has decided to come out for the first time at RISD and you have concerns, please let us know so that we may support you and/or your student. We invite you to explore the links below for additional support and resources.
Additionally, parents and families looking for personal support may wish to consider contacting their local Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG) chapter. PFLAG is a wonderful organization for families looking for support from other families who have similiar experiences.
*If you feel your student may need immediate attention, please call our Public Safety office at 401.454.6376 (general) or 401.454.6666 (24-hour emergencies).*
When Your Child Comes Out
It’s no doubt a difficult and perhaps challenging time for a parent when their son or daughter comes out to them. Your initial reaction and immediate search for answers to your many questions may be compounded by the fact that your son or daughter is also far away from you while at college. While every parent’s experience is unique to them and to their family when their child come out to them, know that you are certainly not alone. It is estimated that 1 in every 10 people in this country are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
Your first reaction could range from sadness, fear to hurt, confusion to grief, and anywhere in between. Even if you consider yourself to be open to member of the LGBTQ community, you may experience some of these feelings when a loved one comes to you. These feelings and many others are normal and happen to almost everyone who is a friend or family member of a loved one who has just come out to them.
The first thing that you should do with your loved one is talk to someone who has either been through the process itself or is knowledgeable on LGBTQ sensitivity-training such as an ally. As the parent of a RISD student, you are welcome and encouraged to contact a member of our staff should you seek support after your student has come out to you. Note that we always respect your student’s confidentiality first (unless it is deemed they are potentially a harm to themselves) however, we are happy to help you and your family through this process as much as we can. Additionally, we have compiled many resources for you on our LGBTQ education page that can help you through this process. Educating yourself is not only the second thing you should do, but also something you need to do. You owe it to yourself and your loved one to learn more about what it means to be LGBTQ and also how your loved one may be feeling.
We encourage you to visit the website of the national organization, Parents & Friends of Lesbian & Gays (PFLAG). They are the leading national organization that seeks to support friends and family members when a loved one comes out. They are an affirming organization that embraces their LGBTQ children and friends. They are also composed of members that have been through the same experience you are going through. They have been through much of what you’re feeling and understand. They have over 500 local chapters across the United States and Canada and at least one in every US State. Their website contains a generous amount of resources and family stories, as well as how to contact a local chapter.
When a loved one comes out, it is not just coming out for themselves, but also their family. Make a commitment between you and your loved one of patience and understanding during this time. Make a commitment to education and understanding. All feelings are valid. And know that ISE staff is always here to help.
Designated LGBTQ Staff Contacts
All staff in ISE are available to speak with you and we encourage you to visit our staff bio page. However, if you are a student, faculty/staff member or parent/guardian who are struggling with issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity OR have concerns about someone who is, please feel welcome to contact the following staff who are trained to handle these issues.
Emma Montague (firstname.lastname@example.org) or (401.277.4867) – Primary Contact
Assistant Director of Diversity Programs, Office of Intercultural Student Engagement
Barbara Baker (email@example.com) or (401.277.4957)
Director, Office of Intercultural Student Engagement
Shauna Summers, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org) or (401.454.6637)
Clinical Counselor, Student Development & Counseling
Note: We request that if you are a parent/guardian, that you use Emma Montague as a primary contact for initial inquiries.