National Coming Out Day is this week, and I have found myself recalling when my own child came out a few years back. Sometimes coming out it is a decisive declaration, but for our gender-questioning kid, coming out looked more like a meandering process of discovery. We are so grateful that our child felt safe to share those conversations and realizations with us along the way.
At first, we just focused on making sure that our child was loved and accepted, and we tried to listen and to understand. But as my husband and I talked alone, we admitted that we felt uninformed and completely out of our depth. We were worried how others would treat them. We weren’t quite sure how to help, didn’t understand the terminology, and were generally clueless.
20 Books for Parents of LGBT Kids
Maybe today you are that bewildered parent (or grandparent, aunt, uncle, or teacher). Perhaps your teenage son told you that he is gay. Or your college age de out as bisexual. Or maybe you have a gender-nonconforming 7-year-old and you’re not sure exactly what is going on. You are feeling ALL the emotions, and you definitely have questions.
I have been in your shoes. We knew we needed to learn more to support our precious kid better. We also really wanted to meet other parents of LGBT kids. We discovered a support group for parents, families and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (PFLAG), and we started going. Now that our family is a bit further down that path, I am a board member of our local PFLAG chapter and run an LGBT-themed book club for our group.
*This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Danielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo
I quickly discovered that when new parents come to our meetings, one of the first things they ask is “What books can I read to help me understand my child?” Reading is a great way to educate yourself, support your child, and try to be a good ally to the LGBT community. But where do you start? Hopefully, I can help with that. I have compiled a list of books specifically tailored to parents of LGBT kids-an LGBT 101 for parents new to the journey and wanting to learn more.
The list below contains a range of books that I’ve read myself and with our book club, and other titles were recommended to me by parents of LGBT kids and members of the LGBT community. The memoirs allow you to see through the eyes of someone who has grown up knowing they were queer, and nonfiction is helpful to fill gaps in your knowledge. Reading young adult fiction provides a window into the types of situations and feelings your child may be experiencing. You might even invite your teen to read along with you and discuss the books together. The books for children can be an invaluable resource in introducing younger family members and siblings to LGBT identities.
In making this list, I’ve highlighted as many #ownvoices authors as possible, meaning that most of these books are written by authors who are part of the LGBT community themselves. Since the majority of parents of LGBT kids do not share that identity with their children, it is especially important to hear stories that offer that added level of understanding. While there are certainly many excellent and compassionate books written by straight/cis authors (a few are included here), it is certainly something to look for as you seek to learn more about your child’s experience as a member of the LGBT community.