Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

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MichParent
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Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby MichParent » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:31 am

I am a parent of a 9-year-old who recently told me she is gay. I’m so proud of her to have the courage to talk about that with me! We have talked about LGBTQIA and gender identity topics for several years but I am a cis woman and likely cannot relate entirely to the spectrum of emotions she may be facing as a shy, Indian, only-child, 3rd grader who is in virtual school. I’m here to ask anyone who may relate to her in some way, what do you wish your parents knew? How can I best support her? What do you wish your parents *wouldn’t* do? Thank you for your thoughts!

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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Heather » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:56 am

Hi there!

You sound like a wonderful parent, she's so lucky to have you! How beautiful for you to come in and ask these questions and to be so at-the-ready to be such a great support for her. I love that you're asking them. Let me see if I can't help get the ball rolling.

I'm someone who also pretty clearly knew I was queer that early (and also a former early childhood education person: I haven't always worked just in YA), though I lacked the language for it, and certainly didn't have the family framework for it like your kid has. I think one thing it would have been great for my parents to know especially when I was so young is that the super-intensity of some of my friendships then was that intense because I was *also* having a whole other world of feelings for some of those friends. Those feelings scared my mother, and so she -- unknowingly -- separated me from those friends instead, which was horribly painful for me and which, I think made it extra challenging for me to forge and maintain those relationships later. Some awareness of that and some help figuring out what crushes were and when I was having them and how to hold all those big feelings in my little body would have been great.

They didn't exist back then, but oh, what I would have done for some queer kid books! And to read them with parents! That would have been so, so affirming.

I do think one of the benefits you might have of the pandemic -- as opposed to all the downsides -- is the safe space it can offer your child to be who they are right now? Maybe you can talk with them about what this means for them in terms of what kinds of expression they might want: decorating a room could be a great thing to do around this, for instance?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

MichParent
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby MichParent » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:33 pm

Thank you for your insightful response, Heather! One thing you mentioned that resonated with me was the benefit of being somewhat insular throughout the pandemic. I think that actually has been beneficial in terms of her exploring not only her sexuality but who she really is by expressing herself in her clothing choices, play behaviors and exploration of her musical interests. In-person school was a little difficult socially for her and when she was in school we had to do a lot of work on her confidence. However this year she seems pretty happy and confident in who she is. So thanks for that perspective!

She’ll be starting 4th grade in person in the Fall. I know her elementary school doesn’t talk about LGBTQIA topics. It is my hope she can continue to keep her confidence up. I’ll be tuning into this resource occasionally to try and listen to social topics that tweens or teens have faced so I can best support her.

Thank you for being here Scarleteen!

P.S.I’ve found a couple graphic novels with LGBTQIA themes but not a whole lot for this age group. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m all ears!

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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Sofi » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:18 am

Putting in my 2 cents: movies/TV shows. She might be a bit young for some of them right now, that's up to you of course, but as she enters her pre-teens and teens it's important she has access to a wide variety of Queer cinema. When I was younger, my parents wouldn't let me watch media that had same-gender sex scenes (even stuff like Brokeback Mountain that isn't a super sexual film), even though they were seemingly pro-LGBTQ+ rights and had openly gay friends. It confused me and I wish I had not just been allowed to watch all those things my friends were watching, but that my parents had watched with me and normalized it. (don't even get me started on The L Word!)
For now, Andi Mack is a good option, because it's a Disney channel show so it's definitely age-appropriate and it features a lesbian character.

I also agree on graphic novels, I did a quick search and here is a list from the Austin Public Library, they're technically for teens though but it's worth looking into as some might be appropriate for her as well. :)
https://austin.bibliocommons.com/list/s ... 1689947529

Heather
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Heather » Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:31 am

I’ll start a book list from me later today!

Please know that I am humming “Wind Beneath My Wings” as I read your thread.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Susan » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:03 pm

Hi,
I just want to say good on you for accepting your daughter for who she is. My parents accept me now, but when I first came out (when I was 11), they said I was too young to know about this stuff. It's just nice to see a parent being so accepting. Your chid knows, trust me. It may not be a sexual attraction, simply a crush that led her to discover herself

Also, I agree with all of the above suggestions, and also would like to add: music. It may seem like a small thing, but most top chart songs that are widely known are about heterosexual relationships, yearning, etc. If you look, there are lots of the same kinds of songs that are written by LBGTQIA artists that might be nice for your daughter to feel seen and included.

And, I have a feeling you're not struggling with this, but make sure to treat your daughter like normal. It was hard for me to come out, because I thought that things might change between us. It's a real fear, though it shouldn't be.
“I have spoken.” - Kuill, The Mandalorian

Heather
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Heather » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:45 pm

Books!

This is just some to get started with, in no particular order:
• Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
• The Lumberjanes Series by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson
• And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
• Drama by Raina Telgemeier (and anything by Raina Telgemeier)
• Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and Mike Curato
• In Our Mothers House by Patricia Polacco
• This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman
• the queer history kimds book I like
• Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders
• The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived by Daniel Errico and Ida M. Schouw Andreasen
• Call Me Tree by Maya Christina Gonzalez
• Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
• Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights by Jerome Pohlen
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

MichParent
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby MichParent » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:57 pm

I just appreciate all your responses so much.

Susan, you are correct in that I am not struggling with this but just want to do whatever to make life easier for my daughter. Any unease I have is related to how the world may treat her. My ask on this site is to try to get a sense of what kids may go through so I can try and provide some anticipatory guidance. Yeah, that’s a good idea about music. We listen to Clairo, girl in red, Arlo Parks but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about them by gay/bi. Also seems to be some lack in representation on screen that’s kid appropriate. Though Sofi on this thread, mentioned Andi Mack and we’ll check that out.

It’s interesting that there’s so little talked about LGBTQIA in formal education. I have heard that this is discussed in middle school but not at all in elementary school. I recently did an online reading with 2 others for her elementary school (outside of school hours) on gender identity. We read Julian is a Mermaid, I am Jazz and It Feels Good to be Yourself. So we created a little tiny bit of space for talk about gender identity, but as far as I know, sexuality has never been addressed. I guess I kind of get it. I’m just hoping that she doesn’t go back to school in the Fall after a year and a half at home with this new sense of self and confidence, just to feel like an “other” when she returns to school.

Heather, thanks for curating such a great list! We have read several of these books together and will definitely check your recs out! I have a couple others that I’ll write out nicely and send to you.:)

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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Sam W » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:39 am

Hi MichParent,

That online reading sounds like such a cool a idea! And what a great way to introduce both your daughter and her classmates to conversations about gender identity.

In addition to all the awesome recommendations Sofi and Heather made (I was just reading "Lumberjanes" yesterday and can confirm it's both hilarious and full of LGBT characters), you may also want to check out an imprint called "Flamingo Rampant." It's new, and focuses on publishing books about LGBT topics for kids. Depending on how much T.V you're okay with her watching, you might also check out "Owl House." It's on Disney Channel and has a rating of TV7, so it should be okay for her, and it features at least one lesbian and one bi character, both of which are young girls. In the next few years, she could also check out "Stevens' Universe" and "She-Ra" (the new one on Netflix).

You're right that it's very strange that sexual orientation and gender identity are often not talked about in elementary school. In my experience, some adults are convinced that LGBT topics are inherently inappropriate for kid, and those adults can be very vocal in terms of forcing schools to remove content. That's why it's extra great that you're being so proactive in finding things to help your daughter learn about herself and about LGBT topics; for a little while, you may be her main point of access.

MichParent
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby MichParent » Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:58 pm

Sam, I just checked out Flamingo Rampart and ordered Bridge of Flowers :) Thanks for the recommendation!

I’ve received so many good book and tv recommendations here that I think I’ll compile a little library. I don’t know how much support I’d get from our PTO or school to make some kind of space for this but I think this could be valuable to other kids.

There were only 12 kids that listened in on our little gender identity read along but still, it was kinda neat to have that.

I still also want to be “cool” though with my girl and make sure I’m not embarrassing her before I go forward.

Sam W
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:39 am

Yay, I'm so glad you found a book there! And I think compiling a little library is a great idea; even if it's not something you can attach to her school, just having it can be really beneficial to both her and to other kids who are around her, because they know that if they need information on these topics, you're a safe person to get it from.

And absolutely, checking in with your daughter about these steps is an awesome and respectful thing to do.

Heather
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Re: Parent of gay 9 year old asking for advice

Unread postby Heather » Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:35 am

Sam: thanks for mentioning Flamingo Rampant! Bear (the publisher) is a personal friend of mine and I feel like such a dope to have left them out!

They also are producing their very first puberty book for this next season, so I expect it to be a winner!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead


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