Building Trust with LGBTQ+ Students


These tips are designed to help you take the next step in making your community more welcoming and inclusive towards the LGBTQ+/SSA community. Here are 3 important things to know, 3 common mistakes to avoid, and 3 ideas to try.

3 Things to Know

  1. LGBTQ+ community has its own culture (history/events, vocabulary, backstory, customs). Learning more helps to understand LGBTQ+ culture.
  2. Successful LGBTQ+ ministry starts from compassion and trust. People want to be cared for and accepted as they are. Like Jesus, you don’t need to agree with a person to offer support. Listen compassionately and be a confidant.
  3. The main objective is to be more like Jesus and help others do the same. Don’t begin with theological positions. Focus on being like Jesus through Scripture and prayer. Sexuality and gender identity are among many topics to be approached in God’s timing.


3 Things to Avoid

  1. Using alienating micro-messages. Small (un)spoken or (un)conscious messages have an impact on relationships. Phrases like “love the sinner, hate the sin,” derogatory terms, silence on the topic, or not using preferred pronouns create barriers to trust.
  2. Practices that express fear or antipathy. These practices can exist:
    • Institutionally: Events that exclude based on LGBTQ+ identity
    • Internally: Tension within one’s self
    • Interpersonally: Relational tension, differing beliefs/practices
  3. Assuming all in your community are straight/cis. Your fellowship likely has people who identify as LGBTQ+. Embrace them and help make your community welcoming. Create structures with identifying people in mind.


3 Things to Try

  1. Understand more of your sexuality and gender identity in light of the gospel. All our sexualities and genders are affected by brokenness. We need Jesus’ help with our identity. Ask for God’s help and talk with trusted friends.
  2. Take a look through different lenses.* There are different lenses to understand the sexual and gender minority experience. Try another lens for a wider view:
    • Integrity Lens: Prioritizes theological beliefs and obedience to God
    • Diversity Lens: Prioritizes celebrating difference and negotiating civil rights
    • Accommodation Lens: Prioritizes pragmatism and making room for exploration of differences
    *Mark Yarhouse, Listening to Sexual Minorities
  3. Connect with the LGBTQ+ community. Be like Jesus and lovingly enter LGBTQ+ spaces. Attend an event or training. Send care packages to LGBTQ+ centers on days of remembrance or after hurtful events.

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Accelerated  Resource

This resource has been tested and approved by InterVarsity’s National Strategy & Innovation team for campus ministry. Explore more resources by visiting the Accelerated Small Group Leadership Collection.


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