Illustration by Maxine Crump.

My best friend has been grounded after her parents found out she is gay and has a crush on me, which she and I had already discussed. I’m worried about her and haven’t heard from her since her mom shouted at me until I left their house. She needs to be with friends for comfort through this hard time (it doesn’t have to be me), but she hasn’t been answering her phone. What can I do? —A friend trying to help

Eeesh. I’m so sorry this is happening to your best friend. I’m sorry this is happening to you, too. I’m sorry her mom shouted at you when you didn’t do anything wrong. It sucks that your friend has to deal with this situation—that you both do.

You sound like a great friend. It’s fantastic that you and your BFF had a conversation about her crush and were handling it on your own terms. “She needs to be with friends for comfort through this hard time (it doesn’t have to be me)” is one of the most mature things I’ve read in a long time. It’s obvious you really care about her.

So what can you do for her? I’m not sure if your best friend goes to the same school as you. If she does, try and talk to her at school. Is she physically OK? How is she doing emotionally? If you can get a minute alone with her (and it might be hard—her parents might have forbidden her to speak to you), try and quickly reassure her that you’re still here for her. You’re always her friend, and that fact doesn’t change whether or not she answers her phone or can hang out. You care about her—make sure she knows. Also tell her that you’re not mad that she’s not answering her phone, because she might be worried about that.

About that phone: Your friend’s parents might have told her she’s not allowed to text or call you. It’s also possible that her parents could be monitoring or controlling her phone; as in, taking away her phone entirely, going through her texts, blocking numbers (like yours!), or removing apps. Lots of parents feel that because they pay the bills and are responsible for their children, they’re justified in going through phones. I disagree and think it’s a completely unacceptable violation of someone’s privacy. But it’s something to keep in mind. If you’re texting your friend and you know you’re not blocked because she’s replying, try and keep your messages benign. A suspicious adult might also be reading what you write. If you think her parents would be upset by any communication at all, including simple “Are you OK?” texts, see if you can find a way to talk in person.

If your friend doesn’t go to your school: Send in the troops. And by troops I mean other friends. You might not be able to personally do anything for your friend, like text or call or visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask a few trusted mutual friends to check on her. You don’t need to tell them why. It doesn’t sound like your friend is out to everyone, and it’s never a good idea to tell anyone that someone is gay unless they’re out and you’ve confirmed that they wouldn’t mind. But ask any friends in common to text her, and to physically go over to her place and hang out with her to check in.

If you haven’t seen or heard from your friend at all, even through other people—like if no one has laid eyes on her since the mom-shouting incident and no one can get ahold of her—it might be time to talk to a guidance counselor or another adult you trust. It’s likely that she’s just had her phone taken away, but if you’re worried about her, it’s better to know for certain where she is.

You’re a good friend, and you’re right: Your best friend does need people who care about her around her right now. Hang in there, bb, and keep trying to reach her. ♦

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