A private Facebook group made up of dads with LGBTQIA+ kids aims to be a safe place where fathers can learn how to better raise their children, with a community of other people committed to making the world a better place for them.
"We help dads who are just coming to grips with the fact that they have a LGBT kid, and figure out what they're dealing with and how to support these kids, and how to bring our families along to be more supportive to our children," co-founder Drew Armstrong said Tuesday on CBSN.
The group, Dragon Dads, has more than 1,000 members across the country. Armstrong said they primarily have "strong presences in the South, in some of the little bit more conservative faith communities."
"We have people who oftentimes need a little bit of extra support, where they normally don't receive any from their community," he said.
"These guys need a place where they can come and talk about some tough stuff, and they come in and they're pretty open with their feelings about their kids and the struggles that they're working through themselves," Armstrong said.
"We had a dad the other day that came in and said, 'You know, I accidentally outed my kid. What do I do?' And we have had dads that said 'Geez, I'm having a little bit of a struggle with alcohol and it is affecting my family, and how do I deal with this,'' Armstrong said. "And they can find support in a way that's really different."
Armstrong, who himself is religious, said he was working in the yard of his Utah home when he found out his then-3-year-old was.
"He cut off all of his hair while we were out doing yard work and he was in our closet in our master bedroom. I asked him, 'Why did you do this? He said, 'Well dad, I want to be a boy,'" Armstrong recalled.
He and his wife were "stunned" and began looking for resources, but found help to be scarce.
"There really was not a lot at that point — he is 19 now. Eventually, we found some friends through the Pride Center and some different things," Armstrong said.
People in Gen Z are twice as likely to denitrify as non-straight than their over-40 counterparts, according to a new global survey from Ipsos. People born in 1997 or later are also four times as likely to identify as trans, nonbinaryfluid or a designation other than male and female.
Armstrong and other fathers of LGBTQIA+ kids felt the need to form a group for themselves and others in their position.
"We have dads coming in, just coming to grips with learning to use proper gender pronouns," Armstrong said. "And learning to support their kids in all kinds of ways — everything from dealing with legislation and participating with local pride groups to go ahead and get legislation to where it needs to be where it is safe for children to grow up in our current society."
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 100 pieces of anti-trans legislation have been introduced in 2021.
Many of them target trans youth competing in— but Armstrong believes that "isn't really what they say it's about."
"Let's face it, these bills are not really about transgender girls participating in sports. They are about whether transgender girls are girls or whether transgender boys are boys," he said. "In Utah, we don't have any transgender students that have played in sports, that have created any problem, anywhere. They actually can't even identify one at all."
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this report misidentified the co-founder of the Dragon Dads Facebook group.