- Question submitted Anonymously and Answered by Lisa 

Lisa Says:

No matter who we are, we have all been in a situation where someone says something offensive or something we don’t agree with. Sometimes we speak without thinking, so it is good to think about situations you may encounter in order to prepare an answer that makes you comfortable. For me, I would think about different responses to this situation depending on who is saying the remark and your relationship with that person, always keeping in mind that you don’t want to out your child.

I am a music teacher at a small private school. One day, another teacher and I were discussing our own children and where they may go to college. In the discussion, she commented that she did not want her son going to a particular college as there would be a lot of gay kids there. She went on to say that she felt gay kids should all go to the same school so it wouldn’t confuse straight kids. Being the parent of a gay child, I was taken aback by her ignorance. I did not know how to respond at first. I was quiet, and even though she does not know my daughter, I didn’t want to say anything that would out my kid. But I couldn’t say nothing as I was insulted by her comment and didn’t want to be passive. I couldn’t live without at least letting her know that I was in support of the gay population.

What I finally said was, “I know lots of gay kids, and there is no reason to segregate. We can all learn from each other’s differences. Now I know you may not feel that way, but it’s more important that your son is comfortable in the environment.” In that situation, I was letting her know that I was accepting and that I did not agree with her view in the hope that she would not continue to be disrespectful. By saying, “I know lots of gay kids,” it pulled the focus off of our own children. At the same time, it gave her a reason why I felt the way I did without causing her to question whether or not I had a gay child.

Other times I have encountered people who have completely different religious and political beliefs than me. My friend Tommy, who has met my daughter a handful of times, just loves to bring up hot-button issues when he is around, just to start an argument. If someone like this says something disrespectful about gay people, I would not want to engage with them in a discussion. It’s not even about outing my child at this point. Instead of engaging, I’d suggest you say something like “We can just agree to disagree on that.” This closes the conversation. It also makes it clear where you stand on the issue, without outing your child or engaging in an argument.

You may also find yourself in a discussion with a really good friend who knows your child well. Because your child isn’t out, defending gay people may make the person wonder whether or not your child is gay. This is a difficult situation. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be silent. When I have been in this situation in the past, I have always brought up Robert, the boy I dated in high school. Robert is gay, but at the time I did not know it. I usually mention to my friends how difficult it must have been for Robert in the era we grew up in, and I’m so glad that things are changing. This lets my friends know where I stand on the issue in a personal way. It gives them something substantial to think about and lets them know how strongly I feel about the subject without giving them any reason to think that my child is gay. So if you have a close friend or family member who is openly gay who you can speak about, I would suggest focusing the conversation on them in order to explain how you really feel without outing your child.

I think the best thing you can do is have an idea of what you’d say, because it’s different for each person. By preparing a script, if you will, you can avoid saying something during the heat of the moment that you may regret later on. In addition, discussing these scenarios with your child may even help your child be better prepared if and when these situations occur for them. Good luck!

***

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

Watch: “Gay and Muslim in America”

This special report by Edward Wyckoff Williams explores the unique challenges facing openly gay, American Muslims—and the double consciousness that comes from being a dual minority.

See more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

by Dannielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo, co-founders of The Parents Project

Recently, our friend Meagan, who is also a parent to two young children, told us about a moment she shared with her kids:

"It’s very important to me that my kids grow up understanding that there is no ‘normal,’ from how marriage is defined to who we love to how we live.  Without giving my kids any detail, I said at one point that all babies come from a mom.  A mom carries them in her belly and then they’re born.  Fast forward a few months later when I was explaining to them (ages 4 and 3) about how some kids have a mom and dad, some just a mom or just a dad, some have two moms or two dads.  They had very little reaction to any of this, until a moment later when my daughter said, "for the kids with two dads, where’s the mom?"  Shit, she had been listening earlier!  So I told her that them mom isn’t in the picture.  And my son said, "what picture?"  So then I had to describe euphemisms and suddenly we were down a wormhole."

Many parents wish to communicate the many structures of family, and the many identities in the world around them, with their children… but just aren’t sure how. A great place to start is by making sure your kid’s library has books that show this variety — the more they see differences in the world around them, the more comfortable they become in expressing themselves freely.

So, as a starter, here are five awesome LGBTQ-friendly books for young children!

1. The Family Book by Todd Parr

The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.”

Why We Love It: This book is bright, colorful, and incredibly tangible for young kids! It stresses the important fact that families come in many different shapes and sizes and combinations, while highlighting that the love felt in all families is important, powerful, and strong. 

2. My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

"Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy. Inspired by the author’s son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heart-warming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family."

Why We Love It: Well, first of all, we’re suckers for real life stories. What’s more, books that allow for expression outside of societal expectations of gender are rare — and so it isn’t often that kids get to see anything beyond the pinks and blues that are all around them. Understanding that gender isn’t something that fits in one of two boxes is incredibly important for young children!!

3. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson

And Tango Makes Three is a 2005 children’s book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Why We Love It: Yay! Another true story! What’s so great about this book is that it highlights, again, a different family structure — but it also shows that these structures are all around us. Not only do some kids have two moms or dads, but penguins, too!

4. Oliver Button Is A Sissy by Tomie dePaola

"A little boy must come to terms with being teased and ostracized because he’d rather read books, paint pictures, and tap-dance than participate in sports."

Why We Love It: Tomie dePaola is an incredible writer of children’s stories, and we are even more in love with him knowing that he created this book in 1979. *standing ovation* This book masterfully handles prescribed gender roles, and, through beautiful illustrations and simple text, shows that Oliver Button (and any kid) can do what they love most, and still find the support of their family and friends.

5. Jack and Jim by Kitty Crowther

"When Jack, a blackbird, ventures out of the woods to see the ocean for the first time, he meets Jim, a gregarious seagull. They fly together all day, and become fast friends. But when they visit Jim’s village, their fun ends. They are met with stares and rude remarks. The other seagulls don’t like Jack because he looks different. Then Jim discovers that Jack can do something no other seagull can — he can read! It is the strength of Jim and Jack’s friendship — and the remarkable power of story — that eventually opens the minds and changes the hearts of the village seagulls."

Why We Love It: The ambiguity of this story allows it to address differences that go beyond just gender and sexuality. Through the tale of these two birds (why is it always birds?!), we see the power of love and friendship, and the ability that others have in learning and growing in their understanding of those different from themselves.

***

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

everyoneisgay:

Please Support: Same Difference

'Same Difference' is a documentary film about two young people, Graeme and Justin, who both identify as gay. They go to two different schools, Graeme thriving in his environment and Justin without the support of others. The film highlights bullying and the lack of support in Justin's school and offers solutions to handling gender issues in schools overall.

As you might imagine, this is a much, much needed conversation.

Check out Same Difference’s Indiegogo Campaign!

More #ThisIsOurBook Pictures!
These photos make our hearts melt into puddles. Share what family means to you, and use our #ThisIsOurBook tag so that we can find them and share with our readers!Less than two months until This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is released! AHHH!Click here to pre-order now! More #ThisIsOurBook Pictures!
These photos make our hearts melt into puddles. Share what family means to you, and use our #ThisIsOurBook tag so that we can find them and share with our readers!Less than two months until This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is released! AHHH!Click here to pre-order now! More #ThisIsOurBook Pictures!
These photos make our hearts melt into puddles. Share what family means to you, and use our #ThisIsOurBook tag so that we can find them and share with our readers!Less than two months until This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is released! AHHH!Click here to pre-order now!

More #ThisIsOurBook Pictures!

These photos make our hearts melt into puddles. Share what family means to you, and use our #ThisIsOurBook tag so that we can find them and share with our readers!

Less than two months until This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is released! AHHH!

Click here to pre-order now!

by Cara Giaimo

*****

Language plays a huge part in how we understand and describe the world around us, and how we communicate that understanding to others. Because of this, it can be easy to forget that the dictionary isn’t some infallible, unchangeable document handed down from on high— but it isn’t! Words are actually tools created by humans to help with those aforementioned jobs. The version of the English language that most of us grew up using has pronouns that refer to two particular genders because it reflects a culture that has also, historically, only recognized those two genders. And as our cultural understanding of gender expands, our language expands too, in order to make room for it.

It can be easier to take all of this in—and to see gendered pronouns as culturally created—if you’re aware of their history. So, without further ado, here are Four Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Gender and Pronouns!

1. “Gender” was a grammatical term before it meant anything else. When you hear the word “gender,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably the cultural definition —put most simply, “the characteristics that a society delineates as masculine or feminine.” But the word wasn’t used that way regularly until the 1950s. Before that, it was actually a linguistic term. About one-fourth of the world’s languages—German, Spanish, and Icelandic, to name a few—have what’s called grammatical gender, which means their nouns are sorted into different categories called genders.

And although many of these gender categories fall along a masculine/feminine/neutral divide (as in, for example, Spanish), some don’t! Take Dyribal, an aboriginal Australian language with only a few dozen native speakers left. Dyirbal has four grammatical genders, which linguists refer to as male, female, edible, and inanimate, but even that is pretty approximate. For example, Class II, the “female” class, actually contains women, fire, things related to water, things related to fighting, and most birds.

2. English used to be a gendered language.

Gendered third-person pronouns in English are the vestiges of a language that used to be entirely gendered. According to linguist Anne Curzan, Old English indicated grammatical genders using suffixes (think “-o” vs. “-a” in Spanish). Old Norse did the same thing, but used slightly different suffixes than Old English. When the Vikings began invading Northern England around the late 11th century, speakers of both languages were running into each other a lot, and probably trying to communicate. Since the two languages had a lot of roots in common, in order to understand each other better, “people may have deemphasized these inflectional endings, which were already weak, and then maybe they just dropped away,” taking their grammatical gender signification with them. The only gendered words that stuck around? Those pesky third-person pronouns, which were too short to be affected.

3. Gender-neutral and nontraditional pronouns have their own rich and varied history.

English speakers of all stripes have long been frustrated with the language’s lack of gender-neutral pronouns. A look back at press records reveals public complaints from,newspaper copyeditors wrestling with inelegant phrasing, as well as police commissionerswho were unsure whether or not they could arrest women under a law that only used masculine pronouns. Feminists as far back as 1882 disliked the standard practice of using “he/him/his” as a fallback pronoun, and advocated for a gender-neutral word instead. Those who noticed these problems often provided alternatives. For example, in 1884, a lawyer named Charles Crozat Converse proposed the word “thon,” which was popular enough to make it into several dictionaries. Casey Miller and Kate Swift, who have writtenseveral groundbreaking works on gender-biased vocabulary, suggested “tey.” More recently, people who identify outside the gender binary have resurrected some of these terms for their own personal use, as well as coming up with others. Some of the most common include “ze,” “e,” and the singular “they,” but the sky’s the limit—here’s the most complete list I’ve found.

4. Using someone’s preferred pronouns really makes a difference.

If you think about it, a pronoun serves as a synopsized version of a person, and no one wants to be condensed down to the wrong essence. Respecting someone’s pronouns—by asking which ones that person prefers, using those consistently, and apologizing if you slip up—is a great way to show that you respect who that person is. As Lauren Luben recently shared in zir “Why Change Names and Pronouns?” video, “when someone uses a gender-neutral pronoun, I feel like they are identifying who I am as a being.” Another person I spoke to told me that “I could give you a precise list of every single genderstraight ally I’ve ever witnessed using my pronoun correctly—that’s how much it means to me.” Still others have said that being referred to correctly makes them “absolutely giddy with joy,” “so completely happy,” and “makes me suddenly want to hug them.”

Learning any new vocabulary word can be challenging, and incorporating it into your daily speech might take a little while. But in the end, it’s worth it, because knowing and using that word has broadened your understanding of the world, as well as your ability to describe and communicate that understanding. Non-traditional pronouns are no different!

For more information on the history of gender and grammar, I invite you to check out mythree-partseries at Autostraddle, as well as Gretchen McCullough’s recent piece for The Toast.

***

Cara Giaimo is a Boston-based writer interested in words, gender, and the push-pull of identity construction. She also likes rock’n’roll and biking around. You can find more of her work at Autostraddle and Case Magazine.

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine

*****

Funny you should ask, everyone; I was indeed made fun of as a kid for having two moms!

However, I was only totally caught off-guard once by teasing and that was the first time it happened, the day I started school in West Hartford, CT. I joined the first grade mid-year as a transplant from Manhattan. Back then, I was maintaining my Manhattan-dwelling habit of introducing myself as, “I’m Emma. I have two moms.”

Because mommies and daddies are such an enormous part of pre-K conversation, I started this habit early so that when, within moments, the topics of mommies and daddies arose, my avid contributions would be appropriately contextualized and understood.

I had just thusly introduced myself to Ms. Leonardi’s class on that first day. I was the new kid and it was a real heady buzz for me. My outfit was fabulous: a 1992 Gap ad come to life with white small polka dots on navy leggings beneath a red sailor shirt, a navy blue kerchief sailor-knotted around my neck. White leather Keds completed the look, plus a potbelly and bangs. Though I couldn’t read yet, there was no doubt that when I could, I would be good at it.

After my introduction, the kids dispersed to pick out books. I still couldn’t read, so I hung back… and out of the corner of my eye, I met my first skeptic. He was a boy (already bad news). He sat with his arms crossed, his back against a shelf of books about magic, spelling, and the Golden Rule.

"So," he smirked… and New York felt suddenly far away…

"Did half of you come out of one mom and the other half come out the other?" And then he laughed.

And I felt sick. Who was this little provincial shit who, using no science, logic, or respect, took my openness and flung it back at me? In retrospect, he was six-years-old and West Hartford was a pretty sophisticated town. In not retrospect, I was mad and hurt and it was my first day in a new school where all the kids read better, but seemed to have about 10 percent of the emotional intelligence of my friends back home.

image

The idea of myself halved and grotesquely sliding out of two different people was discordant with my actual birth story, described to me as an almost mythological eight-year soul search. When my parents did conceive me through an anonymous sperm donor, it was in spite of public opinion, with a dearth of role models, and without a father figure. This was radical to my parents, who grew up with fathers.

I stood looking quizzically at this boy, like the young Buddha encountering the real world disguised as a peasant. Obviously this boy didn’t know whom he was addressing. I had come from a land of take-out and chopsticks, Caribbean nannies, and gay pride marches. My first words had been “mommy” and “moo-shu” as in “moo-shu vegetables.” This child was not of my people.

From that day on, I didn’t wait for teasing to come at me. I went out scouring the playground for new cases: Who else was confused? Let him show himself to me.

Who else thought gay people were bad and did nothing but have sex all the time (a frequent misconception)?

Who else didn’t know where babies came from? (Those people I left to wallow, but it was good to have a handle on who they were.)

I was never worn out by this higher calling. I also, within a few months of starting school, began sitting on the bench under a maple tree at recess so the other children could come and tell me their problems and I could give advice. Sometimes there was a bit of a wait so the kid might have to play on the monkey bars for a bit till it was time for her session.

It was very natural for me to lead, to boss, to educate, to amuse, to dispel, to charm, to cajole, to gather allies, and to listen to other little people. Teasing, which I think is the great fear for future gay parents, ignited those passions in me and prompted me to hone those skills. They don’t teach that in college. Maybe I’d be president by now if I’d been teased a little more.

Read more about growing up and being a grown-up with two moms at http://two-and-a-half-women.tumblr.com.

***

Emma Tattenbaum-Fine is a comedian who writes for The Huffington Post. Her comedy has been featured on Jezebel, BustMagazine.com, Gawker, in Time Out NY and Comedy Central’s Indecision 2012 in Tribeca. She has appeared on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, with Reggie Watts in a web series for JASH and also on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party. She has created content for Google’s Original Channels, Funny or Die, and as a sketch comedian with a residency at YouTube’s NY studios. See more at www.emmatattenbaumfine.com!

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

Blogging in Support of LGBT Pride

This post is part of Social Work License Map’s #WearYourPride campaign.

Dannielle Owens-Reid, co-founder of The Parents Project, sits down with Kathy Dornetto in her hometown - Charleston, South Carolina. Kathy shares memories of her initial reactions, concerns, and conversations when her daughter came out to her over a decade ago. This is the first installment in a series of interviews with parents of LGBTQ kids. In the coming months, we will be speaking with more parents about their various experiences and perspectives. 

*****

How did Karey come out to you?

Kathy: I think that it was in New York. I take that back. I think Karey wrote me a note, and said something to the effect that she had a relationship with this girl she was rooming with, and that she felt like this was right. I was going up to New York to see her so the note either came before or after my visit, but that’s pretty much when I knew. Karey was 24 at the time. I really was just kind of floored.

What was your initial reaction when Karey came out? 

Kathy: I just never had any idea. What upset me at first was that she had never really dated anybody. She dated somebody in high school for like three weeks, and then she hated him. He was the only one. Of course, she went to prom and did all that… but she never really dated. She’d never really had a relationship with a guy. That was the first thing that just bothered me. I said, “Karey, you’ve never even dated anybody!”

And, you know, she really didn’t answer. I don’t think she knew [that she was gay], but I may be wrong. No I think she knew, I think she just hadn’t accepted it.

What was your biggest question or concern?

Kathy: I didn’t want anybody to hurt her. That was my biggest thing. I mean, thinking about it bothers me now. I couldn’t help it—I thought, what if somebody is mean to her or actually hurt her? What if people did that? That really, really bothered me.

Who was the first person you told, and how did that conversation go?

Kathy: Well, I told my husband, but he told me that he thought that Karey was gay before I even had a clue. When I first went to New York, when Karey told me, I didn’t tell my husband when I came back because I was trying to decide how I was going to say this exactly to him. But, when we did discuss it, he said, “Don’t you think it’s odd that Karey was sitting right next to [her friend], literally right next to her?”And I said I didn’t notice it, and I think I’m pretty observant. But he noticed it then.

Besides my husband, the first person I told was my sister, JaneI told her about 6 years after Karey came out to me. She was fabulous. She’s the best person in the world, anyway, very loving and caring. She said, “She’s still just the same sweet Karey that we’ve always known, and nothing’s different except one thing. That’s who she is.” It was comforting to me to have finally shared it with somebody.

If you didn’t tell your sister for almost 6 years, where did you find support?

Kathy: I had Kelly, my oldest daughter, and my husband, Lou. So I had support from them. I personally just deal with a lot of the things that I have faced over the years on my own, a lot of family issues. I just happen to be able to… do it. I think I’m just strong that way, that’s all. I don’t mean that like patting myself on the back—I think it’s much better now when you can talk to people and be open about it.

I also felt I had the support of my faith. They don’t agree on certain issues. They think that if someone says that they’re gay, they should be celibate. But I still know that they don’t actually condemn gays. They accept them at Mass and in the sacraments, so I was comfortable knowing that. But I didn’t go to anybody, specifically, to talk to a priest or anything. I do have priest friends who I know I could have gone to, but I just didn’t. I just didn’t feel like I needed to.

Do you feel differently now than you felt in those initial moments, or first few years?

Kathy: I’m not concerned about anybody hurting her, but I do still think that people can be cruel. I can’t change that. I’ve also accepted that, regardless of the fact that she didn’t date guys or anything, that just wasn’t who she was. I’m comfortable with that. And I think she’s just—I think she’s happy. I think she’s very happy. And that’s really all a mother could want, honestly. And her dad, as well. If she’s happy, we are happy. I’m that way about both of our children, and, you know, they have to be who they are.

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about the way you responded to your child?

Kathy: I don’t think so, honestly.

Well, let me think a bit.  It depends on that time in our lives, the situation in this country. The way things are is just easier now. I don’t think I would change anything. I think I had to go through the phases I went through. You know? You are who you are, so I can’t change how I feel. And it just took a little while, but I was never not accepting of it. to her, ever. And I wouldn’t be. But in my own person, I just had to deal with it.

I had friends who have family members who are gay, and who’ve said things to me.  One of them was a teacher of Karey’s who actually called me. And she knows Karey well, loved her, and has always followed her career and all. And she said, “You know, Kathy, my son is gay.” And I said, “Really?” I didn’t know him. She said, “And it’s just refreshing to know that somebody else has a child who’s gay and, you know, how did you deal with it?” So we talked and all. I think there’s a lot more of that now.

What advice would you give to a parent who might be experiencing things similar to what you experienced with Karey?

Kathy: Everybody is going to grow up differently. When I say grow up, I mean me. My husband. We’ve been married, it’ll be forty-seven years. And I’ve watched how we’ve changed over the years, and hopefully for the better. And we look at mistakes we made and stuff, you know, but you do what you think at the time is right, you don’t always know.

***

Click through to read Kathy’s daughter Karey’s responses to her mother’s interview.

Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!
Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now! Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!
Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now! Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!
Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now! Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!
Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now! Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!
Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now!

Check out some pictures from our book trailer shoot!!

Meep! A couple of weeks ago we met with several young people and parents to film a book trailer for This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids!! The trailer (kind of like a movie trailer, but for books) will come out late summer, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

In the meantime, LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE HUMANS.

Click here to pre-order This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids now!

by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, co-founders of The Parents Project

When your child first comes out to you, you may feel taken by surprise, or confused by what it all means. In those initial days, weeks, or months after your child has come out, you may find yourself placing blame on things or people around you. And, while being confused and seeking out answers makes a lot of sense (this is probably very unfamiliar territory), placing blame, is a dangerous, and always inaccurate game. Your child is your child. No singular person, activity, or occurrence can “turn” another person gay.

So, without further ado, here are seven things that most certainly did not (and cannot) turn your child gay:

1. Their Friends. We know, we know. You kid started hanging out with some different people and that coincided with them coming out to you as gay… so by scientific principle it must be the fault of those other kids. First problem here: this isn’t the “fault” of anyone, because there isn’t anything wrong with your kid discovering a part of their identity. Second problem here: Kids don’t turn other kids gay. Suuuure, maybe kids make-out with each other, and perhaps that making-out led your kid to realize something about themselves… but your kid being attracted to a particular gender of person isn’t something they can be “tricked” into. We promise. 

2. Playing Sports. No amount of throwing a softball, kicking a soccer ball, catching a rugby (what happens in rugby, honestly??), swimming a lap, or riding a horse can determine someone’s sexuality… That’s not how it works. You might be confusing gender roles with sexual attraction, which, it’s important to note, are two very different things. Easiest example: Do you think that if you suddenly began playing a sport all the time (or stopped playing a sport suddenly), that your desire for a particular gender would be affected?? That isn’t how brains (or bodies) work — we desire who we desire, regardless of if we are good at throwing a football or not!

3. Television Shows. Noooooope. Nope. Listen. Watching Glee doesn’t mean that you immediately run into the arms of the nearest gay person, forgetting everything about your previous desires and attractions. Television shows that are inclusive of LGBTQ characters allow young people who are already struggling with their identity to get a glimpse of themselves in a way that affirms that identity. Seeing more LGBTQ characters in mainstream media means that your gay kid may be able to feel stronger and more stable in expressing themselves. That’s always a good thing. 

4. Musical Theatre. Come on, now. THOSE SONGS ARE JUST CATCHY.

5. School. Does your kid goes to a school that proudly houses a Gay Straight Alliance, Safe Space Stickers, and an open dialogue? Well, then you should consider yourself incredibly lucky. Those resources allow kids to find friends and teachers who they know will support them, no matter who they are. In a sea of people who might be telling them otherwise, support is vital. PS: If an open, accepting school environment turned kids gay… wouldn’t every kid in the school be gay? Just saying. 

6. Clothing. Allowing your kid to dress in a way that makes them comfortable, once again, does not suddenly trigger their attraction to particular human beings. Your kid dressing in a way that makes them feel comfortable makes their self-confidence go up, allows them to interact with others in a more honest way, and helps them figure out the intricacies and nuances of what makes them, them. 

7. You. Your child is going to fall in love wherever their heart leads them, and connect with other human beings based on their own desires. It really is as simple as that, and there isn’t any way that you can change the course of how they identify, or who they love. Your influence on their life, as a parent, is one that shows them how to respect those around them, how to show love and support, and how to be a responsible, honest, and caring person. How they use those values to impact the world around them should be your number one concern. The gender of the person or people that they choose to journey with along they way is irrelevant to their (and your) ultimate happiness.

<3

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

everyoneisgay:

We did an interview about our book with the lovely David Graver for Cool Hunting! It is not about hunting! IT IS COOL, THO.

Our very first interview about This is A Book for Parents of Gay Kids!
<3<3

Teaching through his actions more than his words, Dad’s wisdom helped prepare me to be the mother of a gender-creative gay son.

Laurin Mayeno, Founder of Out Proud Families and Parents Project Contributor, shares 8 lessons she learned from her father, which helped her be a supportive parent to her gay son. 

Read more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

Watch: Find Your Understanding 

"Every trip is unique. On this trip, Artie Goldstein travels across the country to attend his daughter’s same-sex wedding, a journey that will test him, challenge him, and ultimately change him in unexpected ways." (via Expedia)

PS This is TOO CUTE and you might want to grab some tissues. 

***

Read & watch more on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

I’ve been asked to tell my coming out story. If you’re a parent of an LGBT kid, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Normally our focus is on our children—on helping them come out to the people around them. This is our job and our privilege as parents. But maybe, just maybe, we need some help with this as well. After all, something that affects one family member will affect all family members.

My daughter Lucille died in her sleep one evening in 2009. During our life together, she taught me so much about pride and self-acceptance. We started our journey in the year 1988, when Lucille was born my son, David. I’ve heard someone say that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body. That’s especially true when you have a child who’s a little different—one who gets made fun of by other children and adults and who’s told early on that what they’re doing is wrong and that they’re an abomination against everything God stands for.

Telling my genuinely loving, conservative family about David was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was a single mom whose sweet, blond-headed two-year-old boy loved dolls. I have a picture of him holding up a set of doll clothes he had unwrapped one Christmas morning. He was so happy. He also liked farm animals and finger paints, so I wasn’t that concerned about the doll thing. Several of my friends with children had assured me that all little boys went through times when they liked brightly colored toys. As David grew, he continued to choose girl toys over boy toys, even when he was teased by the kids in his pre-k class. After I’d picked him up from school one day, he asked me if it was wrong to want to play with girl things. I told him of course not—different people liked different toys. I was starting to feel less and less confident that this was a phase that “normal” boys went through.

I got a lot of well-meaning advice from good male friends who wanted to help since David’s dad wasn’t in the picture. For the most part, this consisted of them telling me not to “make” him girly. You know: don’t call him my baby, don’t put a dust ruffle on his bed. One person I dated felt the need to toughen him up by wrestling with him after David repeatedly asked him to stop. I think he thought he was doing us a service, toughening up my child so he could be a man and not be made fun of by others.

If I’m being honest, I wanted David to be more like a boy so it wouldn’t reflect badly on me. But I didn’t know how to square that with the thought that we’re all different. We’re all made to be different, like the flowers of the field. After awhile, I started thinking and feeling that maybe this was my fault. Somehow I had changed my little boy into someone who was painfully different. A sissy.

From age three to eight, my son was a witch for Halloween. Nothing I did, from begging to bribing, would change his mind. He was gleefully and adamantly a witch, with the big hat and robe and broom. Dear Lord.  Right after he would announce to someone that he was a witch, I would say something like, “Oh, he says he’s a witch, but this is a wizard costume.” You know, like that made some kind of sense and would put everyone at ease. All the other little firemen and baseball players just looked at him. Their parents seemed embarrassed for me. I felt the shame of being different. The thing is, when little girls dress up in daddy’s clothes, we all ooh and ahh and think that’s cute. But you let a boy put on a dress, and it scares the crap out of us. It’s like we can’t wrap our minds around it. It goes against the “natural order” of things. It makes us feel shame. And sadness. Our boy couldn’t cut it as a man, so he decided to be a girl.

I know all of this sounds so negative. I don’t mean for it to. Now I realize my son had to work extra hard to be my daughter. She caught hell at school and church, and at the place where she should have had support—home. She was so brave to be herself in the face of a whole world of opposition. She had to forge ahead, past a mom who was scared to show the world who we were. She was asked to hide who she was around family and friends, asked to stand outside on the porch of her aunt’s house if she was wearing “girl” clothes, because her mother wasn’t sure her family could handle it and wasn’t sure if she herself could handle her family knowing how they lived at home. When my daughter was allowed to be herself, she blossomed. She was an awkward boy but a lively, social and confident young lady. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep me from crying all the way through Walmart as she picked out new black patent Mary Jane shoes to wear to school the next day.

As trite as this sounds, it does get better. I had to go to counseling to “mourn” the symbolic “death” of the son I thought I had so I could embrace the daughter I did have. I’m not sure that this mourning process is something you can short-change. It takes time, especially if you’re coming at this from a mindset that changing genders is wrong, against God’s will.

I’ve always heard that God doesn’t make mistakes. My child was not a mistake. Dear God, she was a force. She taught me things I would have never understood had we not gone through this. She taught me to hold my head up as I walked through stores or anywhere with her. She taught me to look people in the eye, especially if they were staring. She taught me that we were fine—that we were good enough—just as we were. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have time to tell her how wonderful she was before she passed away.

I love you, sweetheart.  

—Karen, 48

Please visit LuciesPlace.org and Pflaglr.org

Read more and find other resources on The Parents Project, a first-of-its-kind digital resource for parents of LGBTQ kids.

Contributors to The Parents Project are expressing personal opinions and views through this website, affiliated social media outlets, email, video and/or phone. These opinions and views are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace the treatment, care, or advice that you may be receiving from a licensed professional in fields including but not limited to medicine, finance, law, and/or mental health. Dannielle Owens-Reid, Kristin Russo, or any other contributors to The Parents Project are not responsible and do not accept liability for the outcomes or results of following their advice in any past, present or future situation. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you are responsible for making such a determination independently and you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.

By submitting a question to this website, you grant The Parents Project permission to publish it on this site or elsewhere including print publications. If submitted anonymously, your name and email address will never be included or distributed.

Submit Your Question Below: