College is a time to explore new interests, discover new places, and meet new people. For a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) student, it can also be an opportunity to come out to peers who may be more accepting than their own family members or friends back home. Coming out in college can be a liberating experience because it can build self-esteem and help forge genuine relationships and connections with other LGBT students. For the first time in their lives, students feel like they can finally be themselves. But, along with the freedom that coming out can provide comes the fear that, even in a more liberal environment, the student may be rejected for their sexuality. Here are some suggestions to help LGBT students disclose their sexuality to peers.

Tip #1 Make a Coming Out Plan
When students make a decision to come out, it is important they give themselves time to prepare for when, where, how and to whom they wish to disclose the news.

Rather than rush through the process, make educated decisions about the disclosure.

Tip #2 Be confident in your sexual identity
ometimes students convince themselves that their sexual inclinations are a stage and they’re not really lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. While it’s possible that you are still exploring your sexuality, oftentimes we avoid labeling ourselves because of fear of sharing the truth about ourselves with others.

While you shouldn’t feel obligated to label yourself if you’re still uncertain about what your sexual identity is, don’t be afraid to embrace who you are and be enthusiastic about your orientation.

Tip #3 Have supportive people around you
tudents need to remember they do not have to be alone during this challenging time. A support system such as hotlines, school counselors and other LGBT student organizations can be an excellent sounding board and a way to receive reassurance before and after you come out.

Rather than being around un-accepting individuals, embrace open-minded people.

Tip #4 Be Patient
People are unpredictable. They may react to your news with surprise, anxiety, relief or even become emotional because they were the first person you decided to tell.

Remember that while you may have embraced your sexual identity for a while, they are just learning about it for the first time. Be patient. You’ve just shared something very important and some people need time to absorb that.

Coming out in college can be an exciting opportunity to live an open, happy and enriched life in the LGBT community. Remember the experience may not always turn out the way you would like it to, but have confidence in who you are as a person and move forward. The journey you take coming out in college can be a good model for how you choose to come out in other dimensions of your life.

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